The purpose of the calf fenceline weaning project was to determine whether a difference in stress and growth occurred between calves weaned across a fenceline [but still could have contact with their mothers] vs. calves weaned completely separated from their mothers.
Category: Farm Animals
In their experiences training up to 1000 animals on a given day, the Brelands came upon some unexpected findings which they published in their landmark paper, The Misbehavior of Organism. In this paper, they described a number of cases with different species where strong species-specific behaviors interfered with the learning process and caused delays in performance and delays in reinforcements.
Anyone who hangs out with dogs and their owners has probably heard this or similar comments a million times-“My dog is dominant, he ignores our commands and plays too rough with other dogs.” To the general dog owner, this statement seems pretty normal, but to researchers studying social hierarchies in animals ranging from lions, to macaque monkeys, to bulls, the statement is likely to solicit a pause followed by a “huh?”
Scenes from a Saturday morning cartoon? A twisted scheme of some sort? Neither of the above. It’s the assigned mission at the August 2000 Advanced Operant Conditioning Workshop (a.k.a. chicken training camp), taught by Bob Bailey and psychologist Marian Breland-Bailey. Nine animal trainers from the U.S. and Canada, including myself, are here to meet the challenge. We have five days. Sounds like a joke, but it’s serious business. We’re here not just to train chickens. We’re here to learn the intricacies of a universal mechanism of learning called operant conditioning.