Neophobia: I Never Tried It, I Don't Like It

Do you avoid eating a food, unless you know what it is or what's in it? Well, you're not alone. Livestock don't like to eat new foods either including foods that are normally considered good foods like barley or even alfalfa hay.

Principle: Animals are neophobic with regards to foods. In other words, they don't like to eat new or novel foods.

Neophobia - fear of anything new.

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Novel Foods

Novels foods don't bother you. Maybe you even like something new from time to time. Check out Beijing Fast Foods.

Benefits and Detriments of Neophobia

Keeps Animals Safe - Animals that are cautious of new things, especially foods, have a better chance of surviving than those that aren't cautious. Animals do not instinctively know which foods are harmful and which are nutritious simply by taste. They rely on feedback from the gut to tell their bodies which foods are harmful and which are safe. See Learning from nutrients and Learning from toxins.

Problem for Producers - Unfortunately, neophobia often prevents animals from eating new nutritious foods. By understanding animal behavior, producers can use several techniques to help animals begin eating new foods more quickly, reducing stress and improving performance. See Training animals to eat new foods.

Weeds - Neophobia may be the primary reason livestock often refuse to eat weeds. Mature animals aren't likely to try a new food if they have a variety of nutritious alternatives and are not gently forced to try a new plant. See Training animals to eat unpalatable foods.

Neophyllia - There are times when animals are neophyllic, that is they like to try new foods. Monotony (eating the same food day after day), deficiency (diets lacking in nutrients) or diets excessive in nutrients can cause animals to be neophyllic. If your animals like to eat new foods instead of avoiding them, you may want to take a good hard look at your feeding program.

Fact Sheet: Learning what to eat and what to avoid