Cow to Calf

Dale F. Lott

in American Bison

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780520233386
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930742 | DOI:
Cow to Calf

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This chapter discusses the social relationships of calves, especially their relationship with their mother. The name of ruminants comes from the practice of bringing up fist-sized wads (boluses) of partially digested plants from the fore part of the stomach and ruminating: meditatively chewing, then reswallowing, the boluses. Adult bison spend a good part of their day ruminating; it's an essential part of their digestion. But bison calves don't ruminate for the first three months. Mother's milk makes this way of life possible, and the relationship between the cow and the calf is what makes mother's milk available. The calf needs to stay close to its mother, and to nurse. Evolution not only made nursing a necessity but set up a positive feedback loop. Nursing releases oxytocin, so the more the calf nurses the more mother loves it; and the more she loves it the more she allows it to nurse.

Keywords: calves; social relationships; ruminants; mother's milk; nursing

Chapter.  3069 words. 

Subjects: Biological Sciences

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