Farmers Forum staff
Did you know that bottle feeding a bull makes him more dangerous?
That’s right. Studies have shown that rearing conditions are the key to creating safe or dangerous bulls.
Dr. Ed Price, a renowned behavior researcher from the University of California, has conducted extensive studies revealing that rearing conditions play a crucial role in shaping the temperament of these powerful animals.
One study focused on Hereford bull calves, comparing those raised in isolation and hand-fed by humans to their counterparts raised in groups. Astonishingly, the bottle-raised bulls exhibited a dangerous inclination towards aggression when interacting with humans during adulthood, whereas the group-raised bulls displayed typical Hereford behavior, instinctively moving away from human presence.
Contrary to popular belief, these findings highlight that the most perilous males are not the result of genetics or mistreatment. Rather, it is the imprinting process that occurs during the critical period of early life that drives their behavior. Bottle-raised bulls become “imprinted” onto humans, considering them as rivals and potential threats as they mature.
Imprinting is a natural instinct in many newly-born birds and mammals, which enables them to bond with their mothers and form a sense of identity within their species. For males, this imprinting determines their future competitors and influences their choices in mates upon reaching sexual maturity.
The consequences of imprinting are profound, with lasting biological and psychological effects on adult sexual behavior. Animals imprinted onto another species may compete with that species for mates and even court members of the surrogate species that raised them.
Fortunately, young females that imprint onto the wrong species do not pose a danger to humans, as they maintain their attraction to mates of their own kind and typically do not engage in competition for breeding privileges.
According to Dr. Price, “Countless examples exist of docile intact males turning into killers or posing a potential threat to their human caretakers.”