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American BisonA Natural History$
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Dale Lott, Jan van Wagtendonk, and Kevin Shaffer

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520233386

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520233386.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 30 June 2022

Cow to Calf

Cow to Calf

(p.28) Chapter 3 Cow to Calf
American Bison

Dale F. Lott

University of California Press

This chapter discusses the social relationships of calves, especially their relationship with their mother. The name of ruminants comes from the practice of bringing up fist-sized wads (boluses) of partially digested plants from the fore part of the stomach and ruminating: meditatively chewing, then reswallowing, the boluses. Adult bison spend a good part of their day ruminating; it's an essential part of their digestion. But bison calves don't ruminate for the first three months. Mother's milk makes this way of life possible, and the relationship between the cow and the calf is what makes mother's milk available. The calf needs to stay close to its mother, and to nurse. Evolution not only made nursing a necessity but set up a positive feedback loop. Nursing releases oxytocin, so the more the calf nurses the more mother loves it; and the more she loves it the more she allows it to nurse.

Keywords:   calves, social relationships, ruminants, mother's milk, nursing

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