Invited review: Socio-cognitive capacities of goats and their impact on human-animal interactions
Small Ruminant Research
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A detailed understanding of how livestock animals perceive and communicate with stockpersons is crucial to improving their welfare by means of positive human-animal interactions. However, research regarding the cognitive underpinnings of these interactions in ungulate livestock is still limited. In this review article, I summarize recent advances on studies on the cognitive capacities of domestic goats (Capra hircus), with a special focus on human-animal interaction. Recent work has shown that goats respond to subtle behavioural changes by humans, but also highlighted some of their limitations in comprehending information directed towards them. Based on these findings, I outline how applied research can benefit from these findings and discuss how human behavioural changes can affect appetitive and aversive behaviour of livestock. Because goats’ socio-cognitive capacities affect their ability to adapt to human handling, a better understanding of their cognitive capacities will improve their welfare in the long term.
- College Publications