Dr Alan McElligott and his team have been working with Buttercups for many years, studying animal behaviour and welfare. The above video contains a look into the minds of farm animals (produced by Akexandra Ternant).
The research shown is further detailed in the papers below;
Nawroth C, Albuquerque N, Savalli C, Single M-S, McElligott AG (2018) Goats prefer positive human emotional facial expressions. Royal Society Open Science, 5, 180491.
Nawroth C, Brett JM, McElligott AG (2016) Goats display audience-dependent human-directed gazing behaviour in a problem-solving task. Biology Letters 12, 20160283.
Baciadonna L, Briefer EF, Favaro L, McElligott AG (2019) Goats distinguish between positive and negative emotion-linked vocalisations. Frontiers in Zoology 16, 25.
Briefer EF, Haque S, Baciadonna L, McElligott AG (2014) Goats excel at learning and remembering a highly novel cognitive task. Frontiers in Zoology 11, 20.
The goat was the first ever animal species to be domesticated by humans, approximately 10,000 years ago in the middle-east. It was Neolithic farmers that first kept goat herds, in order for easy access to milk and meat, as well as using dung, bones and other bi-products of the goat to assist with their way of life. Today, there are estimated to be over 900 million goats world-wide.
Sizes and weight vary greatly depending on the individual, along with life expectancy, but all live off of the same diet. Whilst they are all herbivores however, they are more than likely to chew on almost anything, from a piece of paper to a coat! These animals are ruminants, which means their stomach has four compartments. This, along with bringing up their food to be re-chewed helps them to break their food down more affectively.
The three most common problems we encounter at the sanctuary are scald, mud fever and skin conditions:
- Scald is a bacterial infection between the cleats. This can be sore and looks pink and shiny, sometimes producing an unpleasant smell. This is treated with a foot spray and should clear up after a few days.
- Mud fever is caused by a bacteria, leading to flaky looking skin usually starting on the pastern, and around the top of the hoof and due claw. If left untreated however it can spread up the legs and to other parts of the body. This condition is treated with protocon cream being rubbed onto the affected area until it has cleared up. You can also shampoo the affected area.
- Skin conditions come in all different forms, however are generally treated in a similar way. The affected area is trimmed back or shaved to help expose it for treatment. The skin is then brushed and an appropriate cream is applied daily until the infection has cleared up. If left, the condition could spread all over the body.
The pupils of a goats eyes are horizontal compared to our rounded ones. This is so that they have all round vision, as to escape from predators easier. They can see the tip of their nose and see their tales wag! They also have four parts to their stomachs, for more effective digestion. Another feature is only having one row of teeth at the front. This is a row of incisors, which are combinded with a fleshy pad at the top to tear their food. They also have teeth at the back for grinding their food.
At Buttercups we are able to offer students work-placement to assist with their studies, either on an agreed day weekly or over a block period. Starting at 8am and finishing at 1pm, this position provides a fantastic opportunity for learning about the animals and other valuable work skills.