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Goats work for food in a contrafreeloading task

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Rosenberger K., Simmler M., Nawroth C., Langbein J., Keil N.,
Project Impact of domestication on learning and cognitive capacities in goats (Capra hircus) - effects of long-term cognitive training on livestock welfare and husbandry
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Scientific Reports
Volume (Issue) 10(1)
Page(s) 22336 - 22336
Title of proceedings Scientific Reports
DOI 10.1038/s41598-020-78931-w

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


AbstractContrafreeloading (CFL) is the phenomenon when animals work for a resource although an identical resource is available for free. Possible explanations for CFL are that animals seek context for species-specific behaviours or to control their environments. We investigated whether goats show CFL and whether breeding for productivity traits has altered its occurrence. In a manipulation task, we compared two selection lines: 27 Nigerian dwarf goats, not bred for productivity traits, and 30 dairy goats, bred for high milk yield. Over 10 trials, each goat could perform one of three behaviours: not participating in the trial, feeding for free from an open door, or opening a sliding door for a feed of similar value. The results were analysed using an Item Response Tree (IRTree) generalized linear mixed model (GLMM). The fitted probabilities to participate were > 0.87 over all trials in both selection lines. For dwarf goats, the probability of choosing the closed door, and thereby demonstrating CFL, increased from 0.30 in Trial 1 to 0.53 in Trial 10. For dairy goats, this probability was constant at approximately 0.43. Unlike dwarf goats, dairy goats were faster to approach the closed compared to the open door. Overall, our results suggest that both selection lines were similarly interested in CFL.