Methode zur Untersuchung der Lernfähigkeit von Kälbern in Gruppenhaltung und Ergebnisse bei visuellen Differenzierungsaufgaben
Abstract. Title of the paper: Method to assess the learning ability of group-housed calves and results of visual discrimination tasks
Assessing the sensory capacity and learning ability of farm animals will be of increasing importance for the evaluation of animal welfare in order to develop new efficient farming technologies which seriously consider the animals' well-being.
The more-arm-maze test using optic signalling proved to be a useful method to assess the learning ability of singel or group-housed calves. Each test box consisted of 3 Stands per calf arranged side by side (stand dimensions: 1.00 m long, 0.30 m wide and 1.50 m high, wooden walls). The Stands could be distinguished by coloured lamps or black visual patterns of different shapes, projeeted on a white plastic panel above the entrance as Stimuli. Chosing the right (conditioned) Stimulus the calves were rewarded by milk (unconditioned Stimulus) when suckling at the dispenser.
Given a random expectation of 33%, the calves reached at least 70% correct choiees already at the 4th test day.