Assessing the sustainability of egg production systems in the Netherlands
Asselt, E.D. van; Bussel, L.G.J. van; Horne, P.L.M. van; Voet, H. van der; Heijden, G.W.A.M. van der; Fels, H.J. van der - \ 2015
Poultry Science 94 (2015)8. - ISSN 0032-5791 - p. 1742 - 1750.
different housing systems - environmental impacts - animal-welfare - indicators - food
Housing systems for laying hens have changed over the years due to increased public concern regarding animal welfare. In terms of sustainability, animal welfare is just one aspect that needs to be considered. Social aspects as well as environmental and economic factors need to be included as well. In this study, we assessed the sustainability of enriched cage, barn, free-range, and organic egg production systems following a predefined protocol. Indicators were selected within the social, environmental, and economic dimensions, after which parameter values and sustainability limits were set for the core indicators in order to quantify sustainability. Uncertainty in the parameter values as well as assigned weights and compensabilities of the indicators influenced the outcome of the sustainability assessment. Using equal weights for the indicators showed that, for the Dutch situation, enriched cage egg production was most sustainable, having the highest score on the environmental dimension, whereas free-range egg production gave the highest score in the social dimension (covering food safety, animal welfare, and human welfare). In the economic dimension both enriched cage egg and organic egg production had the highest sustainability score. When weights were attributed according to stakeholder outputs, individual differences were seen, but the overall scores were comparable to the sustainability scores based on equal weights. The provided method enabled a quantification of sustainability using input from stakeholders to include societal preferences in the overall assessment. Allowing for different weights and compensabilities helps policymakers in communicating with stakeholders involved and provides a weighted decision regarding future housing systems for laying hens.
Sustainable food consumption. Product choice or curtailment?
Verain, M.C.D. ; Dagevos, H. ; Antonides, G. - \ 2015
Appetite 91 (2015)1. - ISSN 0195-6663 - p. 375 - 384.
norm activation model - meat consumption - organic food - animal-welfare - australian consumers - planned behavior - green consumer - human health - fair trade - attitudes
Food consumption is an important factor in shaping the sustainability of our food supply. The present paper empirically explores different types of sustainable food behaviors. A distinction between sustainable product choices and curtailment behavior has been investigated empirically and predictors of the two types of behavior have been identified. Respondents were classified into four segments based on their sustainable food behaviors: unsustainers, curtailers, product-oriented consumers, and sustainers. Significant differences between the segments were found with regard to food choice motives, personal and social norms, food involvement, subjective knowledge on sustainable food, ability to judge how sustainably a product has been produced and socio-demographics. It is concluded that distinguishing between behavioral strategies toward sustainable food consumption is important as consumer segments can be identified that differ both in their level of sustainable food consumption and in the type of behavior they employ.
Housing and management factors associated with indicators of dairy cattle welfare
Vries, M. de; Bokkers, E.A.M. ; Reenen, C.G. van; Engel, B. ; Schaik, G. van; Dijkstra, T. ; Boer, I.J.M. de - \ 2015
Preventive Veterinary Medicine 118 (2015)1. - ISSN 0167-5877 - p. 80 - 92.
risk-factors - farming systems - lameness prevalence - stall cleanliness - stocking density - cubicle systems - social-behavior - animal-welfare - claw disorders - herd-level
Knowledge of potential synergies and trade-offs between housing and management factors for different aspects of animal welfare is essential for farmers who aim to improve the level of welfare in their herds. The aim of this research was to identify and compare housing and management factors associated with prevalence of lameness, prevalence of lesions or swellings, prevalence of dirty hindquarters, and frequency of displacements (social behavior) in dairy herds in free-stall housing. Seven observers collected data regarding housing and management characteristics of 179 Dutch dairy herds (herd size: 22–211 cows) in free-stall housing during winter. Lame cows, cows with lesions or swellings, and cows with dirty hindquarters were counted and occurrence of displacements was recorded during 120 min of observation. For each of the four welfare indicators, housing and management factors associated with the welfare indicator were selected in a succession of logistic or log-linear regression analyses. Prevalence of lameness was associated with surface of the lying area, summer pasturing, herd biosecurity status, and far-off and close-up dry cow groups (P <0.05). Prevalence of lesions or swellings was associated with surface of the lying area, summer pasturing, light intensity in the barn, and days in milk when the maximum amount of concentrates was fed (P <0.05). Prevalence of dirty hindquarters was associated with surface of the lying area, proportion of stalls with fecal contamination, head lunge impediments in stalls, and number of roughage types (P <0.05). Average frequency of displacements was associated with the time of introducing heifers in the lactating group, the use of cow brushes, continuous availability of roughage, floor scraping frequency, herd size, and the proportion cows to stalls (P <0.05). Prevalences of lameness and of lesions or swellings were lower in herds with soft mats or mattresses (odd ratio (OR) = 0.66 and 0.58, confidence interval (CI) = 0.48–0.91 and 0.39–0.85) or deep bedding (OR = 0.48 and 0.48, CI = 0.32–0.71 and 0.30–0.77) in stalls, compared with concrete, and in herds with summer pasturing (OR = 0.68 and 0.41, CI = 0.51–0.90 and 0.27–0.61), compared with zero-grazing. Deep bedding in stalls was negatively associated with prevalence of dirty hindquarters (OR = 0.50, CI = 0.29–0.86), compared with hard mats. It was concluded that some aspects of housing and management are common protective factors for prevalence of lameness, lesions or swellings, and dirty hindquarters, but not for frequency of displacements.
Cows Desiring to Be Milked? Milking Robots and the Co-Evolution of Ethics and Technology on Dutch Dairy Farms
Driessen, C.P.G. ; Heutinck, L.F.M. - \ 2015
Agriculture and Human Values 32 (2015)1. - ISSN 0889-048X - p. 3 - 20.
automatic milking - animal-welfare - behavior - system - culture - health - cattle
Ethical concerns regarding agricultural practices can be found to co-evolve with technological developments. This paper aims to create an understanding of ethics that is helpful in debating technological innovation by studying such a co-evolution process in detail: the development and adoption of the milking robot. Over the last decade an increasing number of milking robots, or automatic milking systems (AMS), has been adopted, especially in the Netherlands and a few other Western European countries. The appraisal of this new technology in ethical terms has appeared to be a complicated matter. Compared to using a conventional milking parlor, the use of an AMS entails in several respects a different practice of dairy farming, the ethical implications and evaluation of which are not self-evident but are themselves part of a dynamic process. It has become clear that with its use, the entire practice of dairy farming has been reorganized around this new device. With a robot, cows must voluntarily present themselves to be milked, whereby an ethical norm of (individual) freedom for cows can be seen to emerge together with this new technology. But adopting a robot also implies changes in what is considered to be a good farmer and an appropriate relation between farmer and cow. Through interviews, attending “farmers’ network” meetings in the Netherlands, and studying professional literature and dedicated dairy farming web forums, this paper traces the way that ethical concerns are a dynamic part of this process of rearranging a variety of elements of the practice of dairy farming.
Recovery from transportation by road of farmed European eel (Anguilla anguilla)
Boerrigter, J.G.J. ; Manuel, R. ; Bos, R. van den; Roques, J.A.C. ; Spanings, T. ; Flik, G. ; Vis, J.W. van de - \ 2015
Aquaculture Research 46 (2015)5. - ISSN 1355-557X - p. 1248 - 1260.
cyprinus-carpio l. - stress-response - common carp - oncorhynchus-kisutch - animal-welfare - coho salmon - cortisol - fish - gluconeogenesis - metabolism
The objective of this study was to assess the effects of transportation of marketable eel (0.15 kg) in the Netherlands with respect to welfare. Eels (Anguilla anguilla) were obtained from a commercial farm and acclimatized for 7 weeks at the laboratory. Fish were transported according to regular commercial procedures. The animals were placed in water-filled transport tanks on the trailer. Fish density increased from 72 kg m-3 (husbandry) to 206 kg m-3 (fasting) and was further increased to 270–290 kg m-3 during transport. Fish transport lasted 3 h after which the eels were returned to laboratory recirculation systems to measure parameters indicative of stress load, i.e. mortality, plasma cortisol, lactate and non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) as well as gill morphology. Samples were taken at 0, 6, 24, 48 and 72 h after transport in transported fish and non-transported counterparts (controls). Transportation affected water quality within known tolerable limits. No mortality during or after transport was observed. After 6 h, plasma cortisol levels had returned to baseline. However, energy metabolism had increased suggesting that transportation of eels resulted in an increased energy demand that lasted for at least 72 h in the fasted animals. Thus, it is conceivable that exposure to adverse conditions, prior to stunning/killing, in a slaughterhouse may result in allostatic overload in eel.
What do calves choose to eat and how do preferences affect calf behaviour and welfare?
Webb, L.E. ; Engel, B. ; Berends, H. ; Reenen, C.G. van; Gerrits, W.J.J. ; Boer, I.J.M. de; Bokkers, E.A.M. - \ 2014
Applied Animal Behaviour Science 161 (2014). - ISSN 0168-1591 - p. 7 - 19.
ad-libitum milk - veal calves - dairy calves - feeding-behavior - animal-welfare - play-behavior - nonnutritive sucking - rumen development - food preference - roughage source
Calves raised for milk or meat are fed diets that differ from feral-herd calf diets and are based on the nutritional requirements of the ‘average calf’. These diets may not meet the dietary preferences of each individual calf. This study explored diet preferences in calves with free dietary choice, and the effect of these preferences on behaviour. Group-housed Holstein-Friesian bull calves (N = 23) were given unlimited access to five diet components (i.e. milk replacer [MR], concentrate, maize silage, long hay and long barley straw). At 3 and 6 months of age, calves were moved for 7 days to an automated test pen in groups of four, where intake, time spent eating, and visit frequency to each diet component was recorded to assess preferences. Behaviour was recorded on 2 of the 7 days in the test pen, from 07:30 to 18:00 h using instantaneous scan sampling for periods of 30 min every 2.5 h at a 2 min interval. Solid feed intake at 6 months averaged 3205.5 ± 174.6 g DM d-1. At 3 months, calves selected the following proportion (average of individual proportions) of MR, concentrate and roughage in relation to total g DM intake: 51.6 ± 5.0%, 25.0 ± 4.7% and 23.4 ± 2.8%. At 6 months, the calves conserved the roughage proportion (23.3 ± 1.6%), but increased concentrate intake (47.1 ± 2.1%) at the expense of MR (29.6 ± 1.9%). Order of preference for the five diet components varied according to whether intake, time spent eating each component, or visit frequency was considered. On the whole, MR was preferred followed by concentrate and hay at both ages. Offering a dietary choice led to large individual variation in intake and to 47–80% calves having the same ranking as the average ranking for diet components. This suggests diets based on the ‘average calf’ may meet only few calves’ dietary preferences. Different variables showed different preference rankings and studies in the future should consider the relative importance of these variables in assessing animal preferences. Keywords: Behaviour, Dietary preference, Holstein-Friesian calves, Milk replacer, Solid feed, Welfare
Effects of different broiler production systems on health care costs in the Netherlands
Gocsik, E. ; Kortes, H.E. ; Oude Lansink, A.G.J.M. ; Saatkamp, H.W. - \ 2014
Poultry Science 93 (2014)6. - ISSN 0032-5791 - p. 1301 - 1317.
infectious bursal disease - escherichia-coli infection - endemic livestock diseases - poultry production systems - necrotic enteritis - economic-impact - animal-welfare - risk-factors - clostridium-perfringens - eimeria-acervulina
This study analyzed the effects of different broiler production systems on health care costs in the Netherlands. In addition to the conventional production system, the analysis also included 5 alternative animal welfare systems representative of the Netherlands. The study was limited to the most prevalent and economically relevant endemic diseases in the broiler farms. Health care costs consisted of losses and expenditures. The study investigated whether higher animal welfare standards increased health care costs, in both absolute and relative terms, and also examined which cost components (losses or expenditures) were affected and, if so, to what extent. The results show that health care costs represent only a small proportion of total production costs in each production system. Losses account for the major part of health care costs, which makes it difficult to detect the actual effect of diseases on total health care costs. We conclude that, although differences in health care costs exist across production systems, health care costs only make a minor contribution to the total production costs relative to other costs, such as feed costs and purchase of 1-d-old chicks.
Plumage condition in laying hens: Genetic parameters for direct and indirect effects in two purebred layer lines
Brinker, T. ; Bijma, P. ; Visscher, J. ; Rodenburg, T.B. ; Ellen, E.D. - \ 2014
Genetics, Selection, Evolution 46 (2014). - ISSN 0999-193X - 10 p.
feather pecking behavior - multilevel selection - social interactions - breeding programs - production traits - ground-pecking - animal-welfare - gallus-gallus - flock size - cannibalism
Background: Feather pecking is a major welfare issue in laying hen industry that leads to mortality. Due to a ban on conventional cages in the EU and on beak trimming in some countries of the EU, feather pecking will become an even bigger problem. Its severity depends both on the victim receiving pecking and on its group mates inflicting pecking (indirect effects), which together determine plumage condition of the victim. Plumage condition may depend, therefore, on both the direct genetic effect of an individual itself and on the indirect genetic effects of its group mates. Here, we present estimated genetic parameters for direct and indirect effects on plumage condition of different body regions in two purebred layer lines, and estimates of genetic correlations between body regions. Methods: Feather condition scores (FCS) were recorded at 40 weeks of age for neck, back, rump and belly and these four scores were added-up into a total FCS. A classical animal model and a direct–indirect effects model were used to estimate genetic parameters for FCS. In addition, a bivariate model with mortality (0/1) was used to account for mortality before recording FCS. Due to mortality during the first 23 weeks of laying, 5363 (for W1) and 5089 (for WB) FCS records were available. Results: Total heritable variance for FCS ranged from 1.5% to 9.8% and from 9.8% to 53.6% when estimated respectively with the classical animal and the direct–indirect effects model. The direct–indirect effects model had a significantly higher likelihood. In both lines, 70% to 94% of the estimated total heritable variation in FCS was due to indirect effects. Using bivariate analysis of FCS and mortality did not affect estimates of genetic parameters. Genetic correlations were high between adjacent regions for FCS on neck, back, and rump but moderate to low for belly with other regions. Conclusion: Our results show that 70% to 94% of the heritable variation in FCS relates to indirect effects, indicating that methods of genetic selection that include indirect genetic effects offer perspectives to improve plumage condition in laying hens. This, in turn could reduce a major welfare problem.
Exploring the value of routinely collected herd data for estimating dairy cattle welfare
Vries, M. de; Bokkers, E.A.M. ; Schaik, G. van; Engel, B. ; Dijkstra, T. ; Boer, I.J.M. de - \ 2014
Journal of Dairy Science 97 (2014)2. - ISSN 0022-0302 - p. 715 - 730.
body condition score - somatic-cell count - milk-production - reproductive-performance - social-dominance - animal-welfare - cows - behavior - weight - productivity
Routine on-farm assessment of dairy cattle welfare is time consuming and, therefore, expensive. A promising strategy to assess dairy cattle welfare more efficiently is to estimate the level of animal welfare based on herd data available in national databases. Our aim was to explore the value of routine herd data (RHD) for estimating dairy cattle welfare at the herd level. From November 2009 through March 2010, 7 trained observers collected data for 41 welfare indicators in a selected sample of 183 loose-housed and 13 tethered Dutch dairy herds (herd size: 10 to 211 cows) using the Welfare Quality protocol for cattle. For the same herds, RHD relating to identification and registration, management, milk production and composition, and fertility were extracted from several national databases. The RHD were used as potential predictors for each welfare indicator in logistic regression at the herd level. Nineteen welfare indicators were excluded from the predictions, because they showed a prevalence below 5% (15 indicators), or were already listed as RHD (4 indicators). Predictions were less accurate for 7 welfare indicators, moderately accurate for 14 indicators, and highly accurate for 1 indicator. By forcing to detect almost all herds with a welfare problem (sensitivity of at least 97.5%), specificity ranged from 0 to 81%. By forcing almost no herds to be incorrectly classified as having a welfare problem (specificity of at least 97.5%), sensitivity ranged from 0 to 67%. Overall, the best-performing prediction models were those for the indicators access to at least 2 drinkers (resource based), percentage of very lean cows, cows lying outside the supposed lying area, and cows with vulvar discharge (animal based). The most frequently included predictors in final models were percentages of on-farm mortality in different lactation stages. It was concluded that, for most welfare indicators, RHD have value for estimating dairy cattle welfare. The RHD can serve as a prescreening tool for detecting herds with a welfare problem, but this should be followed by a verification of the level of welfare in an on-farm assessment to identify false-positive herds. Consequently, the number of farm visits needed for routine welfare assessments can be reduced. The RHD also hold value for continuous monitoring of dairy cattle welfare. Prediction models developed in this study, however, should first be validated in additional field studies.
Chopped or long roughage: what do calves prefer? Using cross point analysis of double demand functions
Webb, L.E. ; Bak Jensen, M. ; Engel, B. ; Reenen, C.G. van; Gerrits, W.J.J. ; Boer, I.J.M. de; Bokkers, E.A.M. - \ 2014
PLoS ONE 9 (2014)2. - ISSN 1932-6203 - 8 p.
different rooting materials - affecting diet selection - veal calves - rumen development - chewing activity - particle length - food preference - animal-welfare - feed - behavior
The present study aimed to quantify calves'(Bos taurus) preference for long versus chopped hay and straw, and hay versus straw, using cross point analysis of double demand functions, in a context where energy intake was not a limiting factor. Nine calves, fed milk replacer and concentrate, were trained to work for roughage rewards from two simultaneously available panels. The cost (number of muzzle presses) required on the panels varied in each session (left panel/right panel): 7/35, 14/28, 21/21, 28/14, 35/7. Demand functions were estimated from the proportion of rewards achieved on one panel relative to the total number of rewards achieved in one session. Cross points (cp) were calculated as the cost at which an equal number of rewards was achieved from both panels. The deviation of the cp from the midpoint (here 21) indicates the strength of the preference. Calves showed a preference for long versus chopped hay (cp ¿=¿14.5; P ¿=¿0.004), and for hay versus straw (cp ¿=¿38.9; P¿=¿0.004), both of which improve rumen function. Long hay may stimulate chewing more than chopped hay, and the preference for hay versus straw could be related to hedonic characteristics. No preference was found for chopped versus long straw (cp ¿=¿20.8; P¿=¿0.910). These results could be used to improve the welfare of calves in production systems; for example, in systems where calves are fed hay along with high energy concentrate, providing long hay instead of chopped could promote roughage intake, rumen development, and rumination.
Responses to novel situations of female and castrated male pigs with divergent social breeding values and different backtest classifications in barren and straw-enriched housing
Reimert, I. ; Rodenburg, T.B. ; Ursinus, W.W. ; Kemp, B. ; Bolhuis, J.E. - \ 2014
Applied Animal Behaviour Science 151 (2014). - ISSN 0168-1591 - p. 24 - 35.
different coping characteristics - individual behavioral-characteristics - environmental enrichment - growing-pigs - physiological-responses - animal-welfare - fear reactions - laying hens - multilevel selection - surgical castration
The growth of a pig is not only affected by its own genes, but also by the genes of itspen mates. This indirect effect on a pig’s growth is represented as social breeding value(SBV) in a newly developed breeding model. It has been hypothesized that pigs could affecttheir pen mates’ growth through their behavior. We investigated whether pigs selectedfor a relatively positive (+SBV) or negative genetic effect (-SBV) on the growth of theirpen mates and kept in either barren or straw-enriched pens differ in fearfulness. Effectsof coping style, as assessed in a backtest, and gender were also investigated. Pigs (n = 480)were subjected to a group-wise novel rope test and human approach test and individuallyto a novel environment test in which after 5 min a bucket was lowered from the ceiling.In the novel rope test +SBV pigs were faster than -SBV pigs to touch a rope (P <0.01) andin the novel environment test +SBV pigs showed less locomotion than -SBV pigs afterintroduction of the bucket (P <0.05). Furthermore, straw-enriched pigs were faster thanbarren housed pigs to touch a rope in the novel rope test (P <0.10) and faster to approach(P <0.05) and touch a person (P <0.05) in the human approach test, suggesting that theyare less fearful or more curious than pigs in barren housing. Straw-enriched pigs also hadlower salivary cortisol concentrations than barren housed pigs (P <0.001). Pigs classifiedas high-resisting in the backtest spent more time near the person in the human approachtest (P <0.10) and showed more locomotion (P <0.10) and vocalizations (P <0.001) afterintroduction of the bucket in the novel environment test than low-resisting pigs. Giltsappeared less fearful than barrows, because they were faster to touch a rope in the novelrope test (P <0.05) and faster to approach (P <0.05) and touch a person (P <0.10) in thehuman approach test. In addition, in the novel environment test, gilts were more calm(P <0.05) in the period before the bucket was introduced, paid more attention to the bucketonce it was lowered (P <0.10) and were overall more active (P <0.01). Gilts also had lowerbasal cortisol concentrations than barrows (P <0.001). Overall, these results suggest that+SBV pigs might be less fearful than -SBV pigs. Furthermore, the response of pigs in noveltytests seems to depend also on their housing conditions, coping style, and gender.
Salmon welfare index model 2.0: an extended model for overall welfare assessment of caged Atlantic salmon, based on a review of selected welfare indicators and intended for fish health professionals
Pettersen, J.M. ; Bracke, M.B.M. ; Midtlyng, P.J. ; Folkedal, O. ; Stien, L.H. ; Steffenak, H. ; Kristiansen, T.S. - \ 2014
Reviews in Aquaculture 6 (2014)3. - ISSN 1753-5123 - p. 162 - 179.
decision-support-system - trout oncorhynchus-mykiss - skeletal-muscle inflammation - affect cataract development - farmed rainbow-trout - salar l - animal-welfare - semantic model - intraperitoneal vaccination - cardiomyopathy syndrome
Here, we present an extended version of a semantic model for overall welfare assessment of Atlantic salmon reared in sea cages. The model, called SWIM 2.0, is designed to enable fish health professionals to make a formal and standardized assessment of fish welfare using a set of reviewed welfare indicators. SWIM 2.0 supplements SWIM 1.0, which was designed for application by fish farmers. We searched the literature for documented welfare indicators that could be used by fish health professionals. The selected indicators are eyes, cardiac condition, abdominal organs, gills, opercula, skeletal muscles, vaccine-related pathology, aberrant fish, necropsy of the dead fish and active euthanasia. Selection criteria for the SWIM 2.0 indicators were that they should be practical and measureable on salmon farms by fish health professionals and that each indicator could be divided into levels from good to poor welfare backed up by relevant scientific literature. To estimate each indicator's relative impact on welfare, all the indicators were weighted based on their respective literature reviews and according to weighting factors defined as part of the semantic modelling framework. This was ultimately amalgamated into an overall SWIM 2.0 model that can be used to calculate welfare indexes for salmon in sea cages, taking into account the available fish health expertise. Using this model, an example calculation based on recordings and samplings done from an Atlantic salmon sea cage containing 106 000 fish yielded an overall welfare index of 0.81 of a maximum of 1.0.
Stress in African catfish (clarias gariepinus) following overland transportation
Manuel, R. ; Boerrigter, J. ; Roques, J. ; Heul, J.W. van der; Bos, R. van den; Flik, G. ; Vis, J.W. van de - \ 2014
Fish Physiology and Biochemistry 40 (2014)1. - ISSN 0920-1742 - p. 33 - 44.
oncorhynchus-mykiss walbaum - carp cyprinus-carpio - common carp - animal-welfare - rainbow-trout - responses - fish - l. - temperature - aggression
Of the many stressors in aquaculture, transportation of fish has remained poorly studied. The objective of this study was therefore to assess the effects of a (simulated) commercial transportation on stress physiology of market-size African catfish (Clarias gariepinus). Catfish weighing approximately 1.25 kg were returned to the farm after 3 h of truck-transportation, and stress-related parameters were measured for up to 72 h following return. Recovery from transportation was assessed through blood samples measuring plasma cortisol, glucose and non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) and gill histology. Also, the number of skin lesions was compared before and after transport. Pre-transport handling and sorting elevated plasma cortisol levels compared to unhandled animals (before fasting). Plasma cortisol levels were further increased due to transportation. In control fish, plasma cortisol levels returned to baseline values within 6 h, whereas it took 48 h to reach baseline values in transported catfish. Plasma glucose and NEFA levels remained stable and were similar across all groups. Transported catfish did not, on average, have more skin lesions than the handling group, but the number of skin lesions had increased compared to unhandled animals. The macroscopic condition of the gills was similar in control, transported and unhandled catfish; however, light microscopy and immunohistochemistry revealed atypical morphology and chloride cell migration normally associated with adverse water conditions. From our data, we conclude that transportation may be considered a strong stressor to catfish that may add to other stressors and thus inflict upon the welfare of the fish.
Effects of the observation method (direct v. from video) and of the presence of an observer on behavioural results in veal calves
Leruste, H. ; Bokkers, E.A.M. ; Sergent, O. ; Wolthuis-Fillerup, M. ; Reenen, C.G. van; Lensink, B.J. - \ 2013
Animal 7 (2013)11. - ISSN 1751-7311 - p. 1858 - 1864.
animal-welfare - reactivity - responses
This study aimed at assessing the effect of the observation method (direct or from video) and the effect of the presence of an observer on the behavioural results in veal calves kept on a commercial farm. To evaluate the effect of the observation method, 20 pens (four to five calves per pen) were observed by an observer for 60 min (two observation sessions of 30 min) and video-recorded at the same time. To evaluate the effect of the presence of the observer in front of the pen, 24 pens were video-recorded on 4 consecutive days and an observer was present in front of each pen for 60 min (two observation sessions of 30 min) on the third day. Behaviour was recorded using instantaneous scan sampling. For the study of the observer's effect, the analysis was limited to the posture, abnormal oral behaviour and manipulation of substrates. The two observation methods gave similar results for the time spent standing, but different results for all other behaviours. The presence of an observer did not affect the behaviour of calves at day level; however, their behaviour was affected when the observer was actually present in front of the pens. A higher percentage of calves were standing and were manipulating substrate in the presence of the observer, but there was no effect on abnormal oral behaviour. In conclusion, direct observations are a more suitable observation method than observations from video recordings for detailed behaviours in veal calves. The presence of an observer has a short-term effect on certain behaviours of calves that will have to be taken into consideration when monitoring these behaviours.
Evaluating results of the Welfare Quality multi-criteria evaluation model for classification of dairy cattle welfare at the herd level
Vries, M. de; Bokkers, E.A.M. ; Schaik, G. van; Botreau, R. ; Engel, B. ; Dijkstra, T. ; Boer, I.J.M. de - \ 2013
Journal of Dairy Science 96 (2013)10. - ISSN 0022-0302 - p. 6264 - 6273.
animal-welfare - housing systems - water troughs - part 1 - cows - aggregation - behavior - produce
The Welfare Quality multi-criteria evaluation (WQ-ME) model aggregates scores of single welfare measures into an overall assessment for the level of animal welfare in dairy herds. It assigns herds to 4 welfare classes: unacceptable, acceptable, enhanced, or excellent. The aim of this study was to demonstrate the relative importance of single welfare measures for WQ-ME classification of a selected sample of Dutch dairy herds. Seven trained observers quantified 63 welfare measures of the Welfare Quality protocol in 183 loose housed- and 13 tethered Dutch dairy herds (herd size: 10 to 211 cows). First, values of welfare measures were compared among the 4 welfare classes, using Kruskal-Wallis and Chi-squared tests. Second, observed values of single welfare measures were replaced with a fictitious value, which was the median value of herds classified in the next highest class, to see if improvement of a single measure would enable a herd to reach a higher class. Sixteen herds were classified as unacceptable, 85 as acceptable, 78 as enhanced, and none as excellent. Classification could not be calculated for 17 herds because data were missing (15 herds) or data were deemed invalid because the stockperson disturbed behavioral observations (2 herds). Herds classified as unacceptable showed significantly more very lean cows, more severely lame cows, and more often an insufficient number of drinkers than herds classified as acceptable. Herds classified as acceptable showed significantly more cows with high somatic cell count, with lesions, that could not be approached closer than 1 m, colliding with components of the stall while lying down, and lying outside the lying area, and showed fewer cows with diarrhea, more often had an insufficient number of drinkers, and scored lower for the descriptors “relaxed” and “happy” than herds classified as enhanced. Increasing the number of drinkers and reducing the percentage of cows colliding with components of the stall while lying down were the changes most effective in allowing herds classified as unacceptable and acceptable, respectively, to reach a higher class. The WQ-ME model was not very sensitive to improving single measures of good health. We concluded that a limited number of welfare measures had a strong influence on classification of dairy herds. Classification of herds based on the WQ-ME model in its current form might lead to a focus on improving these specific measures and divert attention from improving other welfare measures. The role of expert opinion and the type of algorithmic operator used in this model should be reconsidered.
Backtest and novelty behavior of female and castrated male piglets, with diverging social breeding values for growth
Reimert, I. ; Rodenburg, T.B. ; Ursinus, W.W. ; Duijvesteijn, N. ; Camerlink, I. ; Kemp, B. ; Bolhuis, J.E. - \ 2013
Journal of Animal Science 91 (2013)10. - ISSN 0021-8812 - p. 4589 - 4597.
different coping characteristics - average daily gain - laying hens - genetic-parameters - group selection - environmental enrichment - multilevel selection - stress responses - animal-welfare - growing gilts
Pigs housed together in a group influence each other’s growth. Part of this effect is genetic and can be represented in a social breeding value. It is unknown, however, which traits are associated with social breeding values. The aim of this study was, therefore, to investigate whether personality and response to novelty could be associated with social breeding values for growth in piglets. Female and castrated male piglets from 80 litters, with either an estimated relative positive or negative social breeding value (+SBV or –SBV) for growth, were individually tested in a backtest and novel environment test, and group-wise in a novel object (i.e., a feeder with feed) test and human approach test. All tests were performed during the suckling period. No differences between +SBV and –SBV piglets were found for the frequency and latency of struggling and vocalizing in the backtest (at least, P > 0.30). In the novel object test, piglets with a +SBV for growth touched the feeder faster than piglets with –SBV for growth (P = 0.01) and were more frequently present near the person in the human approach test (P <0.01). No behavioral differences between +SBV and –SBV piglets were found in the novel environment test (at least, P > 0.40), but piglets that struggled more in the backtest walked more in this test (P = 0.02). Behavior was affected by gender in each test. Female piglets were faster than castrated male piglets to start struggling in the backtest (P = 0.047). In the novel object test, females were faster than males to touch the feeder and sample the feed. In the human approach test, they were also faster than male piglets to touch a person (all, P <0.001). Females were also more frequently present near the feeder (P <0.001) and person (P = 0.03). In the novel environment test, female piglets explored the floor more (P = 0.046), produced less low- (P = 0.04) and high-pitched vocalizations (P = 0.02), and defecated (P = 0.08) and urinated less than male piglets (P <0.01). It was concluded that +SBV and –SBV piglets do not differ in their response to the backtest, and only subtle differences were found in their response to novelty. More research is warranted to identify the traits underlying SBV for growth in pigs. Moreover, castrated male piglets seemed to react more fearfully to each test than female piglets.
Dairy farmers' attitudes and intentions towards improving dairy cow foot health
Bruijnis, M.R.N. ; Hogeveen, H. ; Garforth, C.J. ; Stassen, E.N. - \ 2013
Livestock Science 155 (2013)1. - ISSN 1871-1413 - p. 103 - 113.
animal-welfare - lameness control - control program - england - cattle - implementation - prevalence - management - disorders - behavior
Dairy cow foot health is a subject of concern because it is considered to be the most important welfare problem in dairy farming and causes economic losses for the farmer. In order to improve dairy cow foot health it is important to take into account the attitude and intention of dairy farmers. In our study the objective was to gain insight into the attitude and intention of dairy farmers to take action to improve dairy cow foot health and determine drivers and barriers to take action, using the Theory of Planned Behavior. Five hundred Dutch dairy farmers were selected randomly and were invited by email to fill in an online questionnaire. The questionnaire included questions about respondents' intentions, attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioral control and was extended with questions about personal normative beliefs. With information from such a framework, solution strategies for the improvement of dairy cow foot health can be proposed. The results showed that almost 70% of the dairy farmers had an intention to take action to improve dairy cow foot health. Most important drivers seem to be the achievement of better foot health with cost-effective measures. Possible barriers to taking action were labor efficiency and a long interval between taking action and seeing an improvement in dairy cow foot health. The feed advisor and foot trimmer seemed to have most influence on intentions to take action to improve dairy cow foot health. Most farmers seemed to be satisfied with the foot health status at their farm, which probably weakens the intention for foot health improvement, especially compared to other issues which farmers experience as more urgent. Subclinical foot disorders (where cows are not visibly lame) were not valued as important with respect to animal welfare. Furthermore, 25% of the respondents did not believe cows could suffer pain. Animal welfare, especially the provision of good care for the cows, was valued as important but was not related to intention to improve dairy cow foot health. The cost-effectiveness of measures seemed to be more important. Providing more information on the effects of taking intervention measures might stimulate farmers to take action to achieve improvement in dairy cow foot health.
Reducing damaging behaviour in robust livestock farming
Goede, D.M. de; Gremmen, H.G.J. ; Rodenburg, T.B. ; Bolhuis, J.E. ; Bijma, P. ; Scholten, M.C.T. ; Kemp, B. - \ 2013
NJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 66 (2013). - ISSN 1573-5214 - p. 49 - 53.
laying hens - environmental enrichment - production systems - breeding programs - animal-welfare - pigs - traits - stress - sustainability - tuberculosis
This paper focuses on how farmers can reduce damaging behaviour in livestock farming by using robustness strategies. We suggest focusing not only on breeding and improvement of early life, but also on supporting adaptation to the environment by offering a suitable housing environment. First, we describe the theoretical background to robustness. Three different robustness strategies are then related to one external and two internal aspects of system vulnerability, namely, exposure, resistance and resilience. Subsequently, we investigate the extent to which robustness can contribute to the reduction of damaging behaviour.
Innovation for sustainable egg production: realigning production with societal demands in The Netherlands
Spoelstra, S.F. ; Groot Koerkamp, P.W.G. ; Bos, A.P. ; Elzen, B. ; Leenstra, F.R. - \ 2013
Worlds Poultry Science Journal 69 (2013)2. - ISSN 0043-9339 - p. 279 - 298.
poultry production systems - animal-welfare - laying hens - environment - management - quality - model
This paper describes an innovation trajectory for sustainability in egg production in The Netherlands in the period 2002-2012. In the approach as well as in the analyses, insights from scientific disciplines that have studied transformations towards sustainability were adopted. Central stage is the project ‘Keeping and loving hens’ and its outcome, by a variety of follow up activities, in terms of technical changes as well as rearrangements of key players in the Dutch egg sector. The ‘Keeping and loving hens’ project was meant to contribute to a change in the Dutch egg sector towards sustainability by explicating and integrating the basic needs of the hen, farmer and citizen in an interactive design process with stakeholder involvement. At the end of the project, various other projects and activities by different key players has taken place, several of which have been evaluated and published. Together they provide a detailed description of a pathway of change. The multiple design goals included income for the farmer, acceptance by the public and improved animal welfare. Analyses has shown that designing well-founded images for laying hen husbandry systems created a learning network for sustainable egg production and elicited entrepreneurial innovations which gained the support of both animal welfare and retail organisations. Furthermore, it prompted government to develop additional policy instruments to support innovation for sustainable development. By early 2012, four laying hen farms in The Netherlands had adopted the principles developed in the project including functional areas for hens, coverable runs, no beak trimming and visitor's facilities to improve local embedment. Their production represented about 0.4% of total egg production in The Netherlands. The most important outcome, however, was a realignment of key players including farmers, retail, animal welfare organizations and government. Together they contribute to a pattern of emerging supply chains characterised by improved animal husbandry at the farm level in combination with an emerging market that is prepared to pay a premium for these products.
Indirect Genetic Effects and Housing Conditions in Relation to Aggressive Behaviour in Pigs
Camerlink, I. ; Turner, S.P. ; Bijma, P. ; Bolhuis, J.E. - \ 2013
PLoS ONE 8 (2013)6. - ISSN 1932-6203
individual coping characteristics - environmental enrichment - growing pigs - variance-components - heritable variation - breeding programs - cognitive bias - finishing pigs - animal-welfare - social stress
Indirect Genetic Effects (IGEs), also known as associative effects, are the heritable effects that an individual has on the phenotype of its social partners. Selection for IGEs has been proposed as a method to reduce harmful behaviours, in particular aggression, in livestock and aquaculture. The mechanisms behind IGEs, however, have rarely been studied. The objective was therefore to assess aggression in pigs which were divergently selected for IGEs on growth (IGEg). In a one generation selection experiment, we studied 480 offspring of pigs (Sus scrofa) that were selected for relatively high or low IGEg and housed in homogeneous IGEg groups in either barren or enriched environments. Skin lesion scores, a proxy measure of aggression, and aggressive behaviours were recorded. The two distinct IGEg groups did not differ in number of skin lesions, or in amount of reciprocal fighting, both under stable social conditions and in confrontation with unfamiliar pigs in a 24 h regrouping test. Pigs selected for a positive effect on the growth of their group members, however, performed less non-reciprocal biting and showed considerably less aggression at reunion with familiar group members after they had been separated during a 24 h regrouping test. The enriched environment was associated with more skin lesions but less non-reciprocal biting under stable social conditions. Changes in aggression between pigs selected for IGEg were not influenced by G×E interactions with regard to the level of environmental enrichment. It is likely that selection on IGEg targets a behavioural strategy, rather than a single behavioural trait such as aggressiveness.