Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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    Exploring the economic potential of reducing broiler lameness
    Gocsik, Eva ; Silvera, A.M. ; Hansson, H. ; Saatkamp, H.W. ; Blokhuis, H.J. - \ 2017
    British Poultry Science 58 (2017)4. - ISSN 0007-1668 - p. 337 - 347.
    Animal welfare - broilerproduction - economicperformance - farmers’perception - lameness

    1. The present study was designed first to explore the potential economic benefits of adopting management practices to reduce lameness in broiler farms, and second to explore farmers’ possible perceptions of this potential in the Swedish context. The likely financial effects were addressed using a normative economic model, whereas a questionnaire-based survey was used to obtain in-depth knowledge about the perceptions of a group of broiler farmers in Sweden. 2. The three alternative practices (out of 6 tested) which realised the greatest improvements in gross margin and net return to management compared to the conventional practice were feeding whole wheat, sequential feeding and meal feeding. 3. The model showed that the negative effect of feeding whole wheat on feed conversion rate was outweighed by the effect of a low feed price and the associated decrease in feed costs. The price of wheat played a major role in the improvement of economic performance, whereas the reduction of lameness itself made a relatively minor contribution. 4. Apparently, the surveyed farmers do not recognise the potential of the positive effects of changing feed or feeding practices on both broiler welfare and farm economics although their implementation can be of great importance in the broiler sector where profit margins are very tight.​

    The welfare of laying hens
    Jong, I.C. de; Blokhuis, H.J. - \ 2014
    - 6 p.
    animal welfare - animal production - poultry - animal behaviour - animal health - animal housing - animal nutrition
    The conditions under which laying hens are housed remain a major welfare concern. It is one of the most intensive forms of animal production and the number of animals involved is very high. According to Directive 1999/74/EC laying down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens unenriched cages will be prohibited from 2012 onwards. The provisions of the Directive are being progressively implemented since 2002. Both the recent report of the European Food Safety Authority (Welfare aspects of various systems for keeping laying hens) and the EU funded LayWel project, evaluated the various welfare aspects of different housing systems for laying hens. In the LayWel project special emphasis was put on furnished cages but also non cage systems,
    such as aviaries and free range systems, were investigated. Here we give an overview of the most severe risks for poor laying hen welfare in the different housing systems, as indicated by the LayWel project and the EFSA report. Laying hens place a high value on a discrete nest space. The LayWel database illustrates a high use of the nest box in all housing systems and indicates a risk to welfare of hens in conventional cages where no nest box is available. Dustbathing and foraging are generally accepted as high priority behaviours. Depending on the lay-out, these behaviours can not be (fully) performed in furnished cages, which is a threat to bird welfare in these housing systems. Feather pecking is still a very predominant welfare problem in birds, specifically in non cage systems with a prevalence between 40-80% in commercial flocks. In addition, it should be noticed that the rearing period is of primary importance for the adaptation of the
    hens to the housing system during the laying period.
    The impact of Welfare Quality and related projects
    Veissier, I. ; Blokhuis, H.J. ; Spoolder, H.A.M. ; Mounier, L. ; Boissy, A. ; Boivin, X. ; Meunier-Salaun, M.C. - \ 2014
    In: Book of Abstracts Workshop Meeting of the Welfare Quality Network. - - p. 14 - 14.
    Deliverable 2: Report of first meeting of Advisory Board of EUWelNet 7th-8th March 2013
    Pritchard, D. ; Blokhuis, H.J. - \ 2013
    Uppsala, Sweden : Coordinated European Animal Welfare Network (EuWelNet) - 14 p.
    Potential risk factors associated with contact dermatitis, lameness, negative emotional state, and fear of humans in broiler chicken flocks
    Bassler, A. ; Arnould, C. ; Butterworth, A. ; Colin, L. ; Jong, I.C. de; Ferrante, V. ; Ferrari, P. ; Haslam, S.A. ; Wemelsfelder, F. ; Blokhuis, H.J. - \ 2013
    Poultry Science 92 (2013)11. - ISSN 0032-5791 - p. 2811 - 2826.
    qualitative behavioral-assessment - foot-pad dermatitis - environmental enrichment - stocking density - leg weakness - housing conditions - light-intensity - road transport - gallus-gallus - dairy-cattle
    The objectives of this study were to 1) identify determinants of poor welfare in commercial broiler chicken flocks by studying the associations between selected resource-based measures (RBM, potential risk factors), such as litter quality and dark period, and animal-based welfare indicators (ABM), such as foot pad dermatitis and lameness, and 2) establish the breadth of effect of a risk factor by determining the range of animal welfare indicators associated with each of the risk factors (i.e., the number of ABM related to a specific RBM). Eighty-nine broiler flocks were inspected in 4 European countries (France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands) in a cross-sectional study. The ABM were contact dermatitis (measured using scores of foot-pad dermatitis and hock burn, respectively), lameness (measured as gait score), fear of humans (measured by the avoidance distance test and the touch test), and negative emotional state (measured using qualitative behavior assessment, QBA). In a first step, risk factors were identified by building a multiple linear regression model for each ABM. Litter quality was identified as a risk factor for contact dermatitis. Length of dark period at 3 wk old (DARK3) was a risk factor for the touch test result. DARK3 and flock age were risk factors for lameness, and the number of different stockmen and DARK3 were risk factors for QBA results. Next, the ABM were grouped according to risk factor and counted. Then, in a second step, associations between the ABM were investigated using common factor analysis. The breadth of a risk factor’s effect was judged by combining the number (count) of ABM related to this factor and the strength of association between these ABM. Flock age and DARK3 appeared to affect several weakly correlated ABM, thus indicating a broad range of effects. Our findings suggest that manipulation of the predominant risk factors identified in this study (DARK3, litter quality, and slaughter age) could generate improvements in the related ABM and thereby enhance the birds’ overall welfare status
    Assessment of human-animal relationship in broilers with automatic recording of activity
    Johansson, A. ; Blokhuis, H.J. ; Berckmans, D. - \ 2013
    In: Precision Livestock Farming '13, 6th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming, Leuven, Belgium, 10 - 12 September, 2013. - - p. 937 - 942.
    Behavioural and physiological responses of heifer calves to acute stressors: Long-term consistency and relationship with adult reactivity to milking
    Reenen, C.G. van; Werf, J.T.N. van der; O'Connell, N.E. ; Heutinck, L.F.M. ; Spoolder, H.A.M. ; Jones, R.B. ; Koolhaas, J.M. ; Blokhuis, H.J. - \ 2013
    Applied Animal Behaviour Science 147 (2013)1-2. - ISSN 0168-1591 - p. 55 - 68.
    individual coping characteristics - t-maze behavior - open-field test - dairy-cows - feather pecking - japanese-quail - beef-cattle - laying hens - fear tests - pigs
    The present study investigated the long-term consistency of individual differences in dairy cattles’ responses in tests of behavioural and hypothalamo–pituitary–adrenocortical (HPA) axis reactivity, as well as the relationship between responsiveness in behavioural tests and the reaction to first milking. Two cohorts of heifer calves, Cohorts 1 (N = 25) and 2 (N = 16), respectively, were examined longitudinally from the rearing period until adulthood. Cohort 1 heifers were subjected to open field (OF), novel object (NO), restraint, and response to a human tests at 7 months of age, and were again observed in an OF test during first pregnancy between 22 and 24 months of age. Subsequently, inhibition of milk ejection and stepping and kicking behaviours were recorded in Cohort 1 heifers during their first machine milking. Cohort 2 heifers were individually subjected to OF and NO tests as well as two HPA axis reactivity tests (determining ACTH and/or cortisol response profiles after administration of exogenous CRH and ACTH, respectively) at 6 months of age and during first lactation at approximately 29 months of age. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to condense correlated response measures (to behavioural tests and to milking) within ages into independent dimensions underlying heifers’ reactivity. Heifers demonstrated consistent individual differences in locomotion and vocalisation during an OF test from rearing to first pregnancy (Cohort 1) or first lactation (Cohort 2). Individual differences in struggling in a restraint test at 7 months of age reliably predicted those in OF locomotion during first pregnancy in Cohort 1 heifers. Cohort 2 animals with high cortisol responses to OF and NO tests and high avoidance of the novel object at 6 months of age also exhibited enhanced cortisol responses to OF and NO tests at 29 months of age. Measures of HPA axis reactivity, locomotion, vocalisation and adrenocortical and behavioural responses to novelty were largely uncorrelated, supporting the idea that stress responsiveness in dairy cows is mediated by multiple independent underlying traits. Inhibition of milk ejection and stepping and kicking behaviours during first machine milking were not related to earlier struggling during restraint, locomotor responses to OF and NO tests, or the behavioural interaction with a novel object. Heifers with high rates of OF and NO vocalisation and short latencies to first contact with the human at 7 months of age exhibited better milk ejection during first machine milking. This suggests that low underlying sociality might be implicated in the inhibition of milk ejection at the beginning of lactation in heifers.
    Identification of temperamental categories in horses
    Nilsson, M. ; Visser, E.K. ; Nyman, S. ; Reenen, C.G. van; Blokhuis, H.J. - \ 2013
    In: Proceedings of the 47th Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology, 2-6 June, 2013, Florianopolis, Brazil. - Wageningen : Wageningen Academic Publishers - ISBN 9789086862252 - p. 58 - 58.
    Changes in farming and in stakeholder concern for animal welfare
    Miele, M. ; Blokhuis, H.J. ; Bennett, R.N. ; Bock, B.B. - \ 2013
    In: Improving farm animal welfare. Science and society working together: the Welfare Quality approach / Blokhuis, H., Miele, M., Veissier, I., Jones, B., Wageningen : Wageningen Academic Publishers - ISBN 9789086867707 - 235 p.
    Improving farm animal welfare : science and society working together: the welfare quality approach
    Blokhuis, H.J. ; Miele, M. ; Veissier, I. ; Jones, B. - \ 2013
    Wageningen : Wageningen Academic Publishers - ISBN 9789086867707 - 232
    dierenwelzijn - vee - rundvee - varkens - pluimvee - dierlijke productie - veehouderij - meting - beoordeling - animal welfare - livestock - cattle - pigs - poultry - animal production - livestock farming - measurement - assessment
    How do you define the quality of life of a farmed animal? This book addresses the complex and often controversial issues surrounding the assessment and improvement of farm animal welfare. It discusses the relevance of science based welfare assessments and the importance of establishing a fruitful dialogue between science and society. An outline is given of the development of a workable welfare assessment system for cattle, pigs and chickens as well as practical ways of improving the animals' quality of life. This book synthesises the huge body of work carried out by the largest ever international network of scientists and stakeholders in Welfare Quality. It describes some of the obstacles encountered and their solution and why particular paths were chosen. It also sets out what still needs to be done and presents selected strategies and technologies (automation, proxy indicators, targeting of risk factors, etc.) designed to ensure the continued improvement of welfare and its assessment.
    A Scenario Analysis on the Implementation of a Farm Animal Welfare Assessment System
    Ingenbleek, P.T.M. ; Blokhuis, H.J. ; Butterworth, A. ; Keeling, L.J. - \ 2011
    Animal Welfare 20 (2011)4. - ISSN 0962-7286 - p. 613 - 621.
    food policy - attitudes - delphi
    There have been important developments in the measurement of farm animal welfare in recent years. Measuring animal welfare is one thing, implementing a farm animal welfare assessment system another. The implementation of such a system occurs in an environment that is influenced by economic, political, technological and socio-cultural factors which interact with each other. This creates enormous complexity, generates a huge number of different potential ‘futures’, and makes the eventual impact that the system will have on the welfare of farm animals uncertain. This article draws upon strategic management literature to apply scenario analysis as a technique to help understand the variance of the uncertainty associated with the implementation of an animal welfare assessment scheme. Specifically, it develops two extreme scenarios based on a theoretical European-wide implementation: one scenario in which all uncertain factors influence the implementation of the assessment system in a negative way, and one scenario in which all these factors have positive impacts. These scenarios provide insight into the variance of possible futures in which the system may have to function. Although consumers are an important stakeholder group, their role in creating uncertainty for the system may be overestimated; it is apparent that the roles of companies, brands and certification organisations deserve significant attention, as well as any relevant institutional structure. Keywords: animal welfare, certification, farm animal welfare assessment, implementation, policy, scenario analysis
    Welfare risk factor analysis for commercial broiler chickens on farm
    Bassler, A. ; Arnould, C. ; Butterworth, A. ; Colin, L. ; Jong, I.C. de; Ferrante, V. ; Ferrari, P. ; Haslam, S.A. ; Wemelsfelder, F. ; Blokhuis, H.J. - \ 2011
    In: Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on the Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group Level, Guelph, Ontariao, Canada, 8 - 11 August, 2011. - Guelph, Canada : Campbell centre for the Study of Animal Welfare, University of Guelph - p. 10 - 10.
    Animal wellbeing is made visible
    Blokhuis, H.J. - \ 2010
    animal welfare - animal production - pigs - poultry - cattle - animal behaviour - animal health - animal housing - animal nutrition
    Proceedings of the 44th congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE) : coping in large groups : Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden, 4-7 August 2010
    Lidfors, L. ; Blokhuis, H.J. ; Keeling, L. - \ 2010
    Wageningen : Wageningen Academic Publishers - ISBN 9789086861507 - 264
    dierenwelzijn - diergedrag - groepsgedrag - dierhouderij - animal welfare - animal behaviour - group behaviour - animal husbandry
    Scenario analysis report on the future implementation of the Welfare Quality® assessment system
    Ingenbleek, P.T.M. ; Blokhuis, H.J. ; Butterworth, A. ; Keeling, L. - \ 2009
    Lelystad : Project Office Welfare Quality, Animal Sciences Group of Wageningen UR (Report Welfare Quality. Deliverable D4.22 (main part; a minor additional part is produced as D4.21). EU Food-CT-2004-506508 ) - 24 p.
    The benzodiazepine brotizolam reduces fear in calves exposed to a novel object test
    Reenen, C.G. van; Hopster, H. ; Werf, J.T.N. van der; Engel, B. ; Buist, W.G. ; Jones, R.B. ; Blokhuis, H.J. ; Korte, S.M. - \ 2009
    Physiology and Behavior 96 (2009)2. - ISSN 0031-9384 - p. 307 - 314.
    elevated plus-maze - open-field test - pituitary-adrenal axis - individual-differences - eliciting situations - dairy-cows - heart-rate - correlational analysis - behavioral-responses - ethological analysis
    The present study examined the effects of the intravenous administration of the anxiolytic drug brotizolam on the behavioral and physiological responsiveness of calves to novelty in a dose response fashion. Holstein Friesian heifer calves (39¿41 weeks of age; body weight 200¿300 kg) received an intravenous injection of either a vehicle control (12 calves) or one of four doses of brotizolam (8 calves per dose): 0.0125, 0.05, 0.2 and 0.8 mg/100 kg body weight. They were then individually subjected to a `combined¿ test involving exposure to a novel environment (open field, OF) for 5 min followed by the sudden introduction of a novel object (NO) that remained in place for a further 10 min. Behavioral, heart rate and plasma cortisol responses were recorded in all animals. Compared to vehicle treatment, the highest dose of brotizolam dose-dependently and significantly increased the time spent in locomotion and the distance travelled near the NO, as well as the time spent in contact with the NO. In addition, post-test plasma cortisol concentrations changed in a dose-dependent manner over time: they decreased between 0 and 10 min after the test in calves that had received the two highest doses of brotizolam, whereas they increased in vehicle-treated and low-dosage calves. There were no effects of brotizolam on vocalization or locomotion during the OF phase of the test or on vocalization following introduction of the NO. These findings strongly support the notion that interaction with a novel object in a novel arena represents a behavioral index of fear and fearfulness in calves, and that vocalization and locomotion in an OF reflect other independent characteristics
    Animal-based welfare monitoring : final report. Part 1. Scientific and technological state-of-the-art. Part 2. Impact of animal-based welfare assessment
    Bokma-Bakker, M.H. ; Munnichs, G. ; Bracke, M.B.M. ; Visser, E.K. ; Schepers, F. ; Ursinus, W.W. ; Blokhuis, H.J. ; Gerritzen, M.A. ; Gast, E. ter; Evers, A.G. ; Haan, M.H.A. de; Mil, E.M. van; Reenen, C.G. van; Brom, F.W.A. - \ 2009
    The Hague [etc.] : Rathenau Institute [etc.] - 83
    veehouderij - dierhouderij - dierenwelzijn - monitoring - indicatoren - projecten - europese unie - livestock farming - animal husbandry - animal welfare - monitoring - indicators - projects - european union
    The STOA project ‘Impact of Animal Welfare’ investigates the potential for introducing a European system of on-farm assessment of animal welfare using animal-based indicators. Part 1 of the project describes the scientific and technological state-of-the-art with regard to animal-based welfare indicators and monitoring technology. Part 2 studies the socio-economic impact of introducing an animal-based welfare monitoring system on livestock production in EU Member States
    Animal-based parameters for welfare assessment
    Bracke, M.B.M. ; Visser, E.K. ; Ursinus, W.W. ; Schepers, F. ; Bokma-Bakker, M.H. ; Enting, J. ; Leenstra, F.R. ; Blokhuis, H.J. ; Gast, E. ter - \ 2008
    Assessing the rider's seat and horse's behavior: difficulties and perspectives
    Blokhuis, H.J. ; Aronsson, A. ; Hartmann, K. ; Reenen, C.G. van; Keeling, L. - \ 2008
    Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 11 (2008)3. - ISSN 1088-8705 - p. 191 - 203.
    correct seat and position are the basis for a good performance in horseback riding. This study aimed to measure deviations from the correct seat, test a seat improvement program (dismounted exercises), and investigate whether horse behavior was affected by the rider's seat. Five experienced trainers defined 16 seat deviations and scored the occurrence in 20 riders in a dressage test. Half the riders then carried out an individual training program; after 9 weeks, riders were again scored. The study took no video or heart-rate recordings of horses and riders. Panel members did not agree on the deviations in the rider's seat; the study detected no differences¿with the exception of improvement of backward-tilted pelvis¿between the groups. Horse behavior, classified as ¿evasive,¿ increased; horse heart rate decreased in the experimental group. Heart rates of riders in both groups decreased. Seven of 9 riders in the experimental group had the impression that the exercises improved their riding performance. There is a clear need to develop a robust system that allows trainers to objectively evaluate the rider's seat
    Project to develop Animal Welfare Risk Assessment Guidelines on Stunning and Killing
    Algers, B. ; Anil, H. ; Blokhuis, H.J. ; Fuchs, K. ; Hultgren, J. ; Lambooij, E. ; Nunes, T.P. ; Paulsen, P. ; Smulders, F.J.M. - \ 2008
    Skara - Sweden : Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
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