Mother Knows Best – Why Your Livestock Do What They Do

A young animal learns what kind of things it should eat and do from its mother and its herd or "social group."  This explains how animals of the same species can survive in extremely different environments. For example, a calf reared in the sage-covered deserts of southern Utah and one raised on grass in the bayous of Lousiana have completely different diets and habits. We all know that young animals learn from their mothers, but we may not realize how important, strong, and long-lasting her influence is. For young creatures, paying attention to mother is crucial for learning where and where not to go and what and what not to eat. Through interactions with mother, young animals learn about the whereabouts of water, shade, cover, and the kinds and locations of nutritious and toxic foods.  Here's a little demonstration done at Utah State University by the BEHAVE group that shows how strong that influence is. You'll see that when a mother avoids harmful foods and selects nutritious alternatives, her offspring will do the same. As offspring begin to forage, they learn quickly to eat foods mother eats, and they remember those foods for years. As an example of this here's a little test done by scientists. The graph at the below shows the results of three different groups of lambs offered wheat at 3 months and then again when they were 3 years old.  At three months old, the first group did not see wheat, the second group was given wheat in a

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