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Pre-exposure to an electrical stimulus primes associative pairing of audio and electrical stimuli for dairy heifers in a virtual fencing feed attractant trial

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Verdon, M ORCID: 0000-0002-3971-4161, Lee, C, Marini, D and Rawnsley, R 2020 , 'Pre-exposure to an electrical stimulus primes associative pairing of audio and electrical stimuli for dairy heifers in a virtual fencing feed attractant trial' , Animals, vol. 10, no. 2 , pp. 1-18 , doi: 10.3390/ani10020217.

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Abstract

This experiment examined whether pre-exposure to an electrical stimulus from electric fencing attenuates associative pairing of audio and electrical stimuli in dairy heifers. Two treatments were applied to 30 weaned heifers naive to electric fencing. Heifers in the ‘electric-fence’ treatment were exposed to an electrified perimeter fence and two periods of strip-grazing using electrified poly-wire. Control heifers remained naïve to electric fencing. The pairing of audio and electrical stimuli was assessed in a feed attractant trial using manually controlled training collars. Heifers received an audio stimulus (2 s; 84 dB) when they breached a virtual fence after which a short electrical stimulus (0.5 s; 120 mW) was administered if they continued to move forward. If the animal stopped moving forward no further stimuli were applied. By the third training session, electric-fence heifers received a lower proportion of electrical stimuli than control heifers (p = 0.03). The more exploratory interactions a heifer had with the electric fence, the lower the proportion of electrical stimuli she received during training (rs = −0.77, p = 0.002). We conclude that experience with electrical fencing enhanced the salience of the electrical stimulus delivered by manual collars used for virtual fence training.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Verdon, M and Lee, C and Marini, D and Rawnsley, R
Keywords: associative learning, conditioning, cue, priming, shock
Journal or Publication Title: Animals
Publisher: MDPI
ISSN: 2076-2615
DOI / ID Number: 10.3390/ani10020217
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2020 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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