How Livestock Learn About Foods and Locations

Burritt, B.
Utah State University Extension
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So what does an animal that has just eaten learn when a  person walks into its pen, catches it, and gives it a  capsule containing a toxin with a balling gun? The  animal will associate the person with its skin-defense  system and will avoid the person in the future, but it will  associate the food with nausea and avoid the food in the  future. The automatic pairing of foods with feedback  means that even if a person could explain to the animal  that the toxin, not the food, caused the illness, the animal would still avoid the food. It is the same when we know  that the flu or motion sickness, not the food, caused  nausea; we still avoid the food even though we know it was not the source of nausea. The gut-defense system is  designed to pair eating a food with gastrointestinal  illness regardless of what the animal “thinks” caused the illness. 
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University of Arizona

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