Animal Welfare - Content and Abstracts

Volume 13 Abstracts


Assessment of the impact of government animal welfare policy on farm animal welfare in the UK

R M Bennett†*, D M Broom‡, S J Henson†, R J P Blaney† and G Harper†

† Department of Agricultural and Food Economics, The University of Reading, PO Box 237, Reading RG6 6AR, UK

‡ Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ES, UK

* Correspondence: r.m.bennett@reading.ac.uk

 

Abstract

The paper presents the method and findings of a Delphi expert survey to assess the impact of UK government farm animal welfare policy, farm assurance schemes and major food retailer specifications on the welfare of animals on farms. Two case-study livestock production systems are considered, dairy and cage egg production. The method identifies how well the various standards perform in terms of their effects on a number of key farm animal welfare variables, and provides estimates of the impact of the three types of standard on the welfare of animals on farms, taking account of producer compliance. The study highlights that there remains considerable scope for government policy, together with farm assurance schemes, to improve the welfare of farm animals by introducing standards that address key factors affecting animal welfare and by increasing compliance of livestock producers. There is a need for more comprehensive, regular and random surveys of on-farm welfare to monitor compliance with welfare standards (legislation and welfare codes) and the welfare of farm animals over time, and a need to collect farm data on the costs of compliance with standards.

Keywords: animal welfare, expert (Delphi) survey, farm animal welfare standards, government policy, impact assessment

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Evaluating possible indicators of insensibility and death in cetacea

A Butterworth†*, L Sadler‡, T G Knowles† and S C Kestin†

† Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, Bristol University Veterinary School, Langford, North Somerset BS40 5DU, UK

‡ RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS, UK

* Correspondence: andy.butterworth@bris.ac.uk

 

Abstract 

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) currently uses imprecise indicators of death to evaluate the welfare consequences of whaling. A recent independent meeting of animal welfare scientists proposed a series of tests to determine the states of sensibility/insensibility/death of whales. As a precursor to assessing these tests in the field, conjoint analysis was used to evaluate expert opinion and to identify tests deemed most suitable for establishing insensibility and death. The results of this study indicated that experts considered measurement of breathing rate, cardiac activity, coordinated swimming and ocular temperature to be among the most useful for determining that animals were not dead. Furthermore, experts considered that judgements that an animal was dead should be made only after application of a series of different tests. The tests identified may be valuable for assessing stranded whales or animals taken as part of whaling operations.

Keywords: animal welfare, cetacean, sensibility, stranding, time to death, whaling

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The assessment of bar chewing as an escape behaviour in laboratory mice

R S Lewis and J L Hurst*

Animal Behaviour Research Group, Department of Veterinary Clinical Science, University of Liverpool, Leahurst, Neston, Cheshire CH64 7TE, UK

* Correspondence: jane.hurst@liv.ac.uk

 

Abstract

The ability to measure objectively how an animal perceives its home environment is essential for improving the housing and husbandry conditions of laboratory animals. Chewing at cage bars by a rodent may reflect the animal’s desire to escape from its home cage and thus provide a measure of the relative aversiveness or inadequacy of different housing conditions from the animal’s viewpoint. To assess whether bar chewing by laboratory mice is an escape behaviour, adult male and female ICR-(CD-1) mice were housed individually or in same-sex groups of three in modified shoebox-type cages. Cages had two sets of external bars in the side walls, an equivalent set of bars fixed internally and a Perspex lid. One set of external bars opened daily, allowing the mice to escape into a larger arena. All mice showed a strong preference for chewing at external bars over those that were internal to each cage. After one week of experience, mice also preferred the external bars that opened daily to those that did not open. Behaviour directed towards the cage lid declined over time as the mice experienced the new escape route in the cage side. Interest in the external bars correlated positively with time since last escape. Results confirm that bar chewing reflects an attempt to escape the cage and explore the surrounding area and may provide a suitable behavioural measure of perception of the cage environment for use in welfare assessment.

Keywords: animal welfare, bar chewing, escape, mice, welfare assessment

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Long-term detrimental effects of tooth clipping or grinding in piglets: a histological approach

M Hay†, J Rue‡, C Sansac‡, G Brunel‡ and A Prunier§*

† Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire de Toulouse, 23 Chemin des Capelles, 31076 Toulouse, France

‡ Faculté de Chirurgie Dentaire de Toulouse, 3 Chemin des Maraîchers, 31062 Toulouse, France

§ Unité Mixte de Recherche sur le Veau et le Porc, Institut Nationale de la Recherche Agronomique, 35590 St Gilles, France

* Correspondence: Armelle.Prunier@rennes.inra.fr

 

Abstract

The needle teeth of piglets are often cut shortly after birth to prevent damage to littermates and the sow’s udder. This practise is, however, contested because the pain it inflicts to piglets may counterbalance its benefits. The purpose of this experiment was to assess the consequences of tooth resection over the subsequent days and weeks by histological examination. Two techniques were compared: tooth clipping with clippers, and tooth grinding with a rotating grindstone. Twenty piglets received each of three treatments (one treatment per half-jaw): clipping, grinding, and control (teeth left intact). Four piglets were slaughtered at each of the following stages: 3, 6, 13, 27 and 48 days after tooth resection. Their teeth were then collected and prepared for histological examination. The analysis revealed that both clipping and grinding induce lesions such as pulp cavity opening, fracture, haemorrhage, infiltration or abscess, and osteodentine formation. Most of these effects appeared sooner and were of greater magnitude after clipping than after grinding. Because most of the observed histological alterations are known to cause severe pain in humans, it is likely that tooth resection — even when achieved through grinding — induces severe pain in piglets. Thus, the rationale of this practice should be re-evaluated.

Keywords: animal welfare, histology, pain, piglet, tooth clipping, tooth grinding

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Housing conditions affect self-administration of anxiolytic by laboratory mice

C M Sherwin*† and I A S Olsson†

* Centre for Behavioural Biology, Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Bristol BS40 5DU, UK

† Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology (IBMC), Rua Campo Alegre 823, 4150-180 Porto, Portugal

* Correspondence: chris.sherwin@bristol.ac.uk

 

Abstract

Tests of emotionality conducted outside the home-cage show that rodents from standard laboratory housing are more anxious than animals from enriched housing; however, it is not known if this also indicates increased anxiety within the home-cage. We used a novel method, recording the self-administration of a psychoactive anxiolytic, to examine home-cage anxiety levels of laboratory mice (three per cage) in Standard (n = 10 cages), Unpredictable (n = 10 cages) and Enriched (n = 6 cages) housing. The mice were given a choice of drinking either non-drugged water or a solution of the benzodiazepine Midazolam. There was a significant effect of housing on the proportion of total fluid consumed from the bottle containing Midazolam solution (P = 0.02). Mice from Standard and Unpredictable cages drank a greater proportion than mice from Enriched cages. This indicates that mice from the Standard and Unpredictable laboratory caging may have been experiencing greater anxiety than mice from the Enriched cages. There was also a significant effect of bottle position (P = 0.002). Mice from the Standard and Unpredictable cages drank a greater proportion of total fluid from the bottle containing Midazolam solution when this was toward the rear of the cage rack, ie in a location that was less susceptible to extraneous disturbance. Monitoring self-administration of psychoactive drugs as a method of welfare assessment could be applied to a wide variety of housing conditions, husbandry practices, or experimental procedures that putatively induce negative mental states. The major finding is that standard cages for laboratory rodents may induce greater anxiety than enriched cages. This is discussed in terms of animal welfare and the validity of data from animals housed in minimalistic environments.

Keywords: animal welfare, anxiolytic, enrichment, mice, self-administration

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Stereotypic swaying and serum cortisol concentrations in three captive African elephants (Loxodonta africana)

M L Wilson*†, M A Bloomsmith† and T L Maple†‡

* Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614, USA

† Center for Conservation and Behavior, School of Psychology, 654 Cherry Street, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia GA 30332, USA

‡ Zoo Atlanta, 800 Cherokee Avenue SE, Atlanta, Georgia GA 30315-1440, USA

* Correspondence: mwilson@lpzoo.org

 

Abstract

The behaviour and serum cortisol concentrations of three captive female African elephants (Loxodonta africana) were studied to determine whether their stereotypic swaying was more prevalent before regularly scheduled events in the elephants’ routine, and whether the elephants that exhibited more stereotyped swaying had lower mean serum cortisol concentrations. Behavioural data were collected during hour-long observations balanced across three periods, and during 15-min observations prior to the elephants being moved to different portions of their enclosure. Observational data were collected using instantaneous focal sampling of behaviours every 30 s. Serum cortisol measures were obtained through weekly blood withdrawal from the elephants’ ears. Of the three elephants, two exhibited stereotyped swaying, which accounted for a mean of 0.4% of the scans during the hour-long observations and a mean of 18% of the scans prior to the elephants being moved between different parts of the enclosure. Swaying was highly variable among the individual elephants during both categories of observations. Additionally, both elephants swayed more prior to moving in the afternoon than prior to moving in the morning. Analyses of serum cortisol concentrations indicated that each elephant had a different mean cortisol level, which did not clearly correspond with the expression of swaying. The findings indicate that a rigidly scheduled management event may elicit stereotyped swaying in the studied elephants. Future research should document the behavioural and physiological effects of an altered management routine to improve captive elephant welfare.

Keywords: African elephant, animal welfare, cortisol, management, stereotypic behaviour

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Movement and mortality of translocated urban–suburban grey squirrels

L W Adams*, J Hadidian† and V Flyger‡

* Natural Resources Management Program, Department of Biological Resources Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA

† The Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037, USA

‡ Department of Avian and Animal Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA

* Correspondence: la3@umail.umd.edu

 

Abstract

During summer and autumn of 1994–1997, we determined the movements and mortality of 38 adult male Eastern grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) that had been captured in urban–suburban backyards and translocated to a large forest. The squirrels did not fare well. Squirrels not found dead or classified as ‘probable mortality’ disappeared from the forest with a median time to disappearance of 11 days. Ninety-seven per cent (37 of 38) of the squirrels either died or disappeared from the release area within 88 days.

Keywords: animal welfare, Sciurus carolinensis, squirrel, translocation, urban, wildlife

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The effects of road traffic accidents on domestic cats and their owners

I Rochlitz

Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ES, UK

email: ir10000@cam.ac.uk

Abstract 

Six veterinary practices participated in a study of cats involved in road accidents. Of 127 cats, 93 survived, of which 58 had moderate to very severe injuries. The mean period of hospitalisation was five days and the mean length of veterinary treatment was 23 days. The cost of treatment was less than £400 for 84% of cats. Owners of 51 surviving cats completed questionnaires within three to five months of the accident. The mean time it took for their cats to recover was 47 days (n = 41; range 1–150 days). Eight cats had not recovered within five months, four of which had had a limb amputated. The severity of the cats’ injuries correlated positively with the cost of treatment, length of hospitalisation and treatment, and time to recovery (rs ≥ 0.69, < 0.001). Behavioural changes were noted in 34 cats; 23 were described as being more nervous, going outdoors less, or being more fearful of cars, roads or going outdoors. Half of the owners treated their cat differently: 17 restricted the time their cat spent outdoors and 11 worried more about their cat. The effects of the accident on the owner’s emotions and finances were measured using a scale from 1 (minimum) to 7 (maximum). Most owners registered a score of 5, 6 or 7 for effect on emotions and 1, 2 or 4 for effect on finances; the scores were not correlated. Road accidents are an important cause of poor welfare in cats and their owners.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, cat, pet ownership, road traffic accident, veterinary treatment

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Preference of domestic rabbits for grass or coarse mix feeds

T K Leslie, L Dalton and C J C Phillips*

Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB3 OES, UK

* Current address: School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, Gatton 4343, QLD, Australia

* Correspondence: c.phillips@uq.edu.au

 

Abstract

The motivation of juvenile rabbits to graze was tested by offering a choice of coarse mix or grass as rewards to rabbits fed a nutritionally adequate diet of carrots and hay. Before measuring the motivation of the 16 rabbits, eight were offered access to grass for 16 days and the remaining eight were kept in outdoor hutches. An initial preference test was then conducted using a Y-maze apparatus, in which the rabbits were offered a choice of grass or coarse mix for 3 min. The rabbits that had not previously been offered grass had a strong preference for the grass reward, whereas those that had chose coarse mix and grass equally. Measurement of rabbits’ behaviour during the reward period revealed that rabbits spent longer eating if their reward was grass; this difference was particularly notable toward the end of the 3 min period. If they received a coarse mix reward, they spent more of the 3 min self-grooming, standing still and chewing the wire of the cage. Feeding rabbits with a coarse mix diet may therefore increase the likelihood of problem behaviours including inactivity and trichophagia. The rabbits were also trained in a novel operant test of motivation for the two rewards, in which they were required to circumnavigate an object several times before receiving a reward. The number of circumnavigations before a reward was offered was progressively increased, and rabbits were offered two opportunities to take the reward at each level. Although the rabbits were prepared to circumnavigate the object up to 11 times on average, there was little evidence that they would work harder for a grass reward than for a coarse mix reward. This may have been because they had previously had experience of grass during the preference tests. It is concluded that juvenile rabbits show a strong initial preference for a grass reward, compared with coarse mix, but that this preference disappears after brief exposure to grass. There was no strong evidence that rabbits will work harder to receive a grass reward than to receive a coarse mix reward.

Keywords: animal welfare, coarse mix, grazing, pasture, preference, rabbit

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Dog training methods: their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare

E F Hiby*, N J Rooney and J W S Bradshaw

Anthrozoology Institute, Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DT, UK

* Correspondence: elly.hiby@bristol.ac.uk

 

Abstract 

Historically, pet dogs were trained using mainly negative reinforcement or punishment, but positive reinforcement using rewards has recently become more popular. The methods used may have different impacts on the dogs' welfare. We distributed a questionnaire to 364 dog owners in order to examine the relative effectiveness of different training methods and their effects upon a pet dog's behaviour. When asked how they trained their dog on seven basic tasks, 66% reported using vocal punishment, 12% used physical punishment, 60% praise (social reward), 51% food rewards and 11% play. The owner's ratings for their dog's obedience during eight tasks correlated positively with the number of tasks which they trained using rewards (P < 0.01), but not using punishment (P = 0.5). When asked whether their dog exhibited any of 16 common problematic behaviours, the number of problems reported by the owners correlated with the number of tasks for which their dog was trained using punishment (P < 0.001), but not using rewards (P = 0.17). Exhibition of problematic behaviours may be indicative of compromised welfare, because such behaviours can be caused by — or result in — a state of anxiety and may lead to a dog being relinquished or abandoned. Because punishment was associated with an increased incidence of problematic behaviours, we conclude that it may represent a welfare concern without concurrent benefits in obedience. We suggest that positive training methods may be more useful to the pet-owning community.

Keywords: animal welfare, domestic dog, human–animal interaction, obedience, problematic behaviour, training methods

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Head-only electrical stunning and bleeding of African catfish (Clarias gariepinus): assessment of loss of consciousness

E Lambooij†*, R J Kloosterboer‡, M A Gerritzen† and J W van de Vis‡

† Animal Science Group, Wageningen UR, Division of Nutrition and Food, PO Box 65, 8200 AB Lelystad, The Netherlands

‡ Animal Science Group, Wageningen UR, Netherlands Institute for Fisheries Research (RIVO), PO Box 68, 1970 AB Ijmuiden, The Netherlands

* Correspondence: bert.lambooij@wur.nl

 

Abstract 

The objective was to evaluate the welfare implications of electrical stunning prior to gill-cutting of farmed African catfish as an alternative to live chilling in combination with gutting. Electroencephalogram (EEG) and electrocardiogram (ECG) recordings, in combination with observation of behaviour and responses to noxious stimuli, were used to assess brain and cardiac function in African catfish (bodyweight 1571 ± 362 g [mean ± standard deviation], 32 males and 26 females). In the first experiment, the minimum electrical current required to induce a general epileptiform insult by head-only stunning was determined. The individual catfish were fixed in a specially designed restrainer, and applied voltages of 150 V, 200 V, 250 V, 300 V or 350 V (50 Hz AC) were delivered via scissor-model stunning tongs for approximately 1 s. A general epileptiform insult was observed in 31 fish, for which a successful EEG recording was obtained using 362 ± 32 V, 629 ± 180 mA for 1.2 s. The durations of the tonic, the clonic and the exhaustion phases were 8 ± 3 s, 12 ± 7 s and 7 ± 5 s as measured by EEG, respectively; a distinct exhaustion phase was not clear in 11 fish. The total duration of the insult was 23 ± 8 s. After the insult the fish recovered. The heart rate was 63 ± 29 beats min–1 prior to stunning. After stunning, the ECG revealed extrasystole and was irregular. By using an average current of 629 ± 180 mA (at approximately 360 V, 50 Hz AC), at least 91% of fish are effectively stunned with a confidence level of 95%. In the second experiment, the behaviour of 10 individual catfish, which were able to move freely in water, was observed following head-only stunning (370 V). The durations of the tonic, clonic and exhaustion phases in free-swimming fish were 11 ± 8 s, 20 ± 5 s and 23 ± 20 s, respectively. All fish recovered. In the third experiment, a group of seven catfish was head-only stunned followed by gill-cutting to kill them as a second procedure (ie after recovery from head-only stunning). No brain activity was seen on the EEG 12 ± 5 s after stunning. However, two fish showed responses to noxious stimuli after 2 min and 5 min. A second group of seven catfish was gill-cut only. They responded to noxious stimuli for at least 15 min. The blood loss was 1.2% and 1.0% of live weight for the first and second group, respectively. It may be concluded from our results that African catfish are effectively stunned for 23 ± 8 s with a current of 629 ± 180 mA for 1.2 s, after which they recover. Since evoked responses may remain for at least 5 min after stunning and gill-cutting, we recommended that the stunning and killing procedure should be optimised.

Keywords: animal welfare, catfish, Clarias gariepinus, killing, slaughter, stunning

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Non-lethal control of fox predation: the potential of generalised aversion

D W Macdonald* and S E Baker

Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK

* Correspondence: david.macdonald@zoology.ox.ac.uk

 

Abstract 

Traditionally, game-keepers and agriculturalists have controlled predators using lethal methods, but there are circumstances under which these may be ineffective or inappropriate for animal welfare or conservation reasons. Generalised aversion is potentially a form of non-lethal control, in which predators are conditioned to avoid foul-tasting bait, causing them subsequently to generalise this avoidance to similar, but untreated, prey, thereby affording it protection. In this exploratory study, a group of captive red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) was successfully conditioned to avoid untreated milk after drinking milk containing BitrexTM, a bitter substance that they were unable to detect except by taste. Our foxes were members of a family group and so housed together to reduce stress, and therefore the individuals’ responses to the various treatments may not have been independent. As a result, we combined data from the three animals, and our most conservative analyses consider the sampling population to be this fox group; we do not make inferences about foxes in general, but confine them to this fox-group. This trial was a pilot to reveal the potential for future work on wild animals. Successful application of generalised aversion to non-lethal predator control has far-reaching implications for the sport hunting industry, nature reserve management and the conservation of threatened predators requiring control, as well as clear animal welfare benefits.

Keywords: animal welfare, BitrexTM, conditioned taste aversion, generalised aversion, red fox, repellency

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Effects of the addition of sand and string to pens on use of space, activity, tarsal angulations and bone composition in broiler chickens

C Arnould*, D Bizeray, J M Faure and C Leterrier

Station de Recherches Avicoles, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique — Centre de Tours, 37380 Nouzilly, France

* Correspondence: arnould@tours.inra.fr

 

Abstract

Fast-growing broiler chickens use pen-space heterogeneously and have low activity levels, related in part to leg problems. The aim of this study was to test the effects of the addition of string and sand trays to rearing pens on the use of space, levels of activity and leg problems. Broiler chickens were reared in 12 pens (40 birds per pen). Drinkers and feeders only were present in the six control pens (C group), whereas the six other pens were enriched (E group) with two sand trays and string. Behaviour was recorded by scan and focal sampling on days 2–3, 13–14, 23–24 and 34–35. Bodyweight, the occurrence of tarsal deformities and the composition of tibiotarsi were measured on day 37. Chickens from the E group spent more time and stood more often in the area enriched with sand than did the C group birds. Chickens in the E group foraged in the sand throughout the rearing period, and their foraging activities were greater than those of the C group birds. They had little interest in the strings. Locomotor activity during standing bouts was enhanced in the E group on days 2–3 only. Bodyweight at day 37, the occurrence of tarsal deformities and the composition of tibiotarsi were not significantly different between groups. These results indicate that sand could attract chickens into areas that are usually rarely used, which may reduce problems resulting from their heterogeneous distribution. However, the results also indicate the difficulty of stimulating locomotion.

Keywords: activity, animal welfare, broiler chickens, environmental enrichment, leg problems, use of space

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Automated recording of stress vocalisations as a tool to document impaired welfare in pigs

PC Schön, B Puppe and G Manteuffel*

Research Institute for the Biology of Farm Animals (FBN), Behavioural Physiology Unit,  Wilhelm-Stahl-Allee 2, D-18196 Dummerstorf, Germany

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: manteuff@fbn-dummerstorf.de

 

Abstract

The vocalisations of animals are results of particular emotional states. For example, the stress screams of pigs may be indicators of disturbed welfare. Our objective was to develop a system to monitor and record levels of stress calls in pigs, which could be employed in environments of breeding, transportation and slaughter. Using a combination of sound  stress vocalisations of pigs in noisy pig units with few recognition errors (<5%).  The system (STREMODO: stress monitor and documentation unit) running on PCs is insensitive to environmental noise, human speech and pig vocalisations other than screams. As a stand-alone device it can be routinely used for the objective, non-invasive measurement of acute stress in various farming environments. The system delivers reliable, reproducible registrations of stress vocalisations. Its detection quality in commercial systems was found to correlate well with that of human experts. STREMODO is particularly well-suited for comparisons of housing and management regimes. Since the system can be trained to recognise various animal vocalisations, its use with other species is also well within its scope.

Keywords: animal welfare, neural networks, pig, stress, vocalisation, welfare assessment

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The influence of a camouflage net barrier on the behaviour, welfare and public perceptions of zoo-housed gorillas

EC Blaney and DL Wells*

School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: d.wells@qub.ac.uk

 

Abstract

Visitors to zoos can be a potential source of stress to captive-housed primates, resulting in increased abnormal behaviour and intra-group aggression. Finding a way to screen primates from human visitors may be one method of decreasing stress and enhancing animal welfare. For this study, the behaviour of six zoo-housed gorillas was studied for one month during standard housing conditions (control condition) and for a further month following the installation of a camouflage net barrier to the viewing area of the exhibit (barrier condition). Visitors’ (n = 200) perceptions of the animals and the exhibit were also recorded during each condition. The net barrier had a significant effect on some components of the gorillas’ behaviour. The gorillas exhibited significantly lower levels of conspecific-directed aggression and stereotypic behaviours during the barrier than the control condition. The net barrier also had a slight effect on visitors’ perceptions both of the animals and of their exhibit. The gorillas were considered to look more exciting and less aggressive during the barrier than the control condition. The exhibit was also considered to be more appropriate for visitors following the introduction of the camouflage netting. Overall, the addition of a screen such as camouflage netting could be considered a positive change, resulting in a reduction in those behaviours typically induced by large groups of visitors and an improvement in public perceptions of the animals and their environment.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, enrichment, gorilla, housing conditions, visitors, zoos

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Environmental enrichment for ostrich, Struthio camelus, chicks

JW Christensen* and BL Nielsen

Department of Animal Health and Welfare, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Research Centre Foulum, PO Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: JanneWinther.Christensen@agrsci.dk

 

Abstract

Commercially reared ostrich chicks are typically kept in barren, indoor environments. This experiment investigated the effects of environmental enrichment on the pecking behaviour, exploration, food consumption and novelty responses of ostrich chicks aged 10 to 21 days. Four groups of 20 randomly selected ostrich chicks were housed in heated huts at one day of age (Day 1), and at Day 10 were allowed access to sand-covered areas (30 m2) that were either barren (control: n = 2 groups) or enriched with cabbage, coniferous cones and sticks (enriched: n = 2 groups). Pecking behaviour was recorded by focal sampling the behaviour of five chicks per group for four 5 min periods per day on Day 10 and Day 13. All enriched chicks pecked at the cabbage, of which they consumed considerable amounts (26 ± 3 g/chick/day). The enriched chicks did not have higher overall pecking frequencies but tended to peck less at fixtures in the pen, compared to control chicks. Additionally, the enriched chicks showed increased exploration in terms of the percentage of chicks observed outside the heated huts. In a novel object test, enriched chicks stayed closer to and delivered more pecks at sorrel (Rumex acetosa) than did control chicks, whereas there was no difference between the treatment groups in their response to adult ostrich feathers. Enriched chicks consumed more food (79 ± 0.4 g/chick/day) than did control chicks (67 ± 0.9 g/chick/day) during the experimental period. We suggest that environmental enrichment improves the welfare of ostrich chicks in terms of increasing exploration and reducing pecking at fixtures in the pen, without compromising food consumption.

Keywords: animal welfare, environmental enrichment, exploration, ostrich, pecking behaviour, Struthio camelus

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Disruptive effects of standard husbandry practice on laboratory rat social discrimination

OHP Burman* and M Mendl

Division of Animal Health and Husbandry, Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford House, Langford BS40 5DU, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: oliver.burman@bristol.ac.uk

 

Abstract

Elements of husbandry procedures, such as handling, may disrupt rodent social behaviour. Such effects may be contingent upon the familiarity between individuals and upon the quality and quantity of the disruption. We investigated this issue using laboratory rats. We placed 36 rats into groups of three. At the point of group formation, and at 24 h, 7 days and two weeks afterwards, individuals received one of three treatments: ‘handling’, exposure to novel conspecific ‘urine’, or ‘control’ (undisturbed), for a duration of either 5 or 15 mins. We used a social recognition test to measure the ability of the rats to recognise the urine of group members of increasing familiarity following the implementation of these treatments. The ‘control’ treatment did not appear to disrupt social recognition. The 5 min ‘urine’ treatment appeared to disrupt recognition only when the rats had received the briefest experience of the ‘familiar’ urine (5 mins). The 5 min ‘handling’ treatment, however, appeared far more disruptive, with an apparent disruption of social recognition even when familiarity with the urine donor was high (eg 7 days of group housing). Both the ‘handling’ and ‘urine’ treatments appeared more disruptive when presented for an increased duration (15 mins). There was also some evidence that increased experience of the handling procedure might reduce its disruptive effect. The results of this study have several implications for the welfare of laboratory-housed rats, and these are discussed.

Keywords: animal welfare, husbandry procedures, laboratory rat, social discrimination, social disruption, social recognition

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Differences in the acute pain responses of two breeds of lamb following castration and tail docking with the rubber ring method

N Archer, AM Johnston and M Khalid*

Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, The Royal Veterinary College, University of London, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL9 7TA, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: mkhalid@rvc.ac.uk

 

Abstract

Charolais × and Suffolk × Mule lambs of less than one week of age were castrated and tail docked using a standard rubber ring technique. After these procedures, their behaviour was monitored for 1 h. Their respiration rates and scrotal sac measurements were also recorded. Both breeds of lamb exhibited abnormal behaviour patterns following these procedures. The recumbent behaviour pattern of both breeds was remarkably similar but their standing behaviour differed markedly. The Charolais × lambs were significantly more active and had significantly higher respiration rates compared with the Suffolk × lambs. They also took a greater amount of time to recover to a normal posture. Their abnormal behavioural responses suggested that both breeds of lamb experienced acute pain following castration and tail docking, but the type of behaviour exhibited was breed-dependent. The findings suggest that different breeds of lamb may experience different levels of distress in response to the same husbandry procedure. Alternatively, they may simply reflect a difference in the character and temperament of the breeds studied.

Keywords: animal welfare, breed difference, castration, lambs, pain response, tail docking

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Stress in wild-caught Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra): effects of a long-acting neuroleptic and time in captivity

 J Fernández-Morán*, D Saavedra†, JL Ruiz De La Torre‡ and X Manteca-Vilanova‡

* Veterinary Service, Barcelona Zoo, Barcelona 08003, Spain

† Fundació Territori i Paitsage, Provença 261–265, Barcelona 08008, Spain

‡ School of Veterinary Science, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: jfernandez@bsmsa.es

 

Abstract

As part of a translocation project, 28 Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra) were captured from the wild and transported to the Barcelona Zoo for veterinary evaluation, quarantine and intraperitoneal implantation of telemetry devices. Eleven animals were injected with the long-acting neuroleptic (LAN) perphenazine enanthate at the time of capture and the remaining animals served as a control group. During their time in captivity, which averaged 23 days, all of the animals were bled three times. Haematological and biochemical parameters were evaluated, including red blood cell count (RBC), haemoglobin (Hb), white blood cell count (WBC), blood urea, aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (AP), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), creatine kinase (CK), albumin, and serum cortisol. No significant differences were found between treated and control otters except for monocyte count, which was higher in treated animals. Time after capture had an effect on many parameters. RBC and Hb decreased at first and then increased, while WBC and segmented neutrophils decreased over time. Most of the biochemical parameters considered to vary in relation to stress, including AST, ALT, CK, AP and LDH, decreased over time, suggesting that the stress responses of the animals decreased throughout the period of captivity. However, no significant change in serum cortisol levels was noted. The lack of effect of perphenazine treatment on haematological parameters should encourage further research on other stress indicators applicable to wild animals, such as behaviour or faecal cortisol concentration. Finally, the results obtained in this study suggest that, when captive conditions are adequate, keeping wild-caught animals in human care for a period of time prior to their release into the wild can be beneficial. However, further studies taking into account other welfare indicators would be useful.

Keywords: animal welfare, Eurasian otter, long-acting neuroleptic, Lutra lutra, perphenazine, stress

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Cage sizes for tamarins in the laboratory

MJ Prescott* and HM Buchanan-Smith†

* Research Animals Department, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS, UK

† Department of Psychology, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: mprescott@rspca.org.uk

 

Abstract

Provision of adequate space for captive animals is essential for good welfare. It affects not only their behaviour but also determines whether there is sufficient room for appropriate environmental enrichment. Most importantly, appropriate cage size permits captive animals to be housed in socially harmonious groups and to fulfil their reproductive potential. For animals used in the laboratory, the environment can be an additional source of suffering and distress. If they can be better housed and cared for to reduce the overall impact of experiments upon them, then we are obliged to do so for ethical, legal and scientific reasons. Practically all current guidelines specify minimum cage sizes for laboratory primates based on unit body weight. We believe that no single factor is sufficient to determine minimum cage sizes for primates, and that instead a suite of characteristics should be used, including morphometric, ecological, social and behavioural characteristics. Here we explore the relevant differences between tamarins (Saguinus labiatus and S. oedipus) and marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) that have a bearing on setting minimum cage sizes. These include: body size; arboreality and cage use; home range size, mean daily path length and stereotypic behaviour; breeding success in the laboratory; and species predisposition and aggression. We conclude that it is even more important to provide tamarins with a good quantity of space in the laboratory than it is marmosets if well-being and breeding success are to be maximised.

Keywords: animal welfare, breeding success, colony management, common marmoset, cotton-top tamarin, red-bellied tamarin

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Effect of amount and frequency of head-only stunning currents on the electroencephalogram and somatosensory evoked potentials in broilers

 ABM Raj* and M O’Callaghan

Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: M.Raj@bristol.ac.uk

 

Abstract

The effectiveness of head-only electrical stunning of broilers, with a root mean square (RMS) current of 100 or 150 mA delivered using either 50, 400 or 1500 Hz sine wave alternating current (AC), was investigated. The changes occurring in the spontaneous electroencephalogram (EEG) were evaluated using Fast Fourier Transformations (FFT) to determine the impact of the amount and frequency of stunning current on total (2–30 Hz) and relative (13–30 Hz) power contents in the EEG. Induction of epileptiform activity and reduction in the EEG power contents to less than 10% of pre-stun levels from the end of epileptiform activity were used as indicators of effective stunning. The duration of unconsciousness and insensibility was determined on the basis of the return of EEG power contents. In addition, the changes occurring in somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) were subjectively evaluated to determine the impact of stunning treatments. The results of ANOVA (repeated measures) showed statistically significant effects of interactions between the current frequencies, amount of current and repeated measures on changes in EEG power contents (P < 0.001). Stunning broilers with 150 mA delivered using 50 Hz resulted in EEG changes that were indicative of more pronounced neuronal inhibition following epileptiform activity and also lasted longer than was the case when broilers were stunned with 150 mA delivered using 400 Hz. Stunning broilers with 100 mA delivered using 50 Hz resulted in changes very similar to those observed after stunning with 150 mA of 50 Hz, but which lasted for a relatively shorter time. However, these changes were more pronounced and lasted longer than did stunning with 100 mA delivered using 400 Hz. The effects of stunning broilers with 150 mA of 400 Hz were similar to those found after stunning with 100 mA of 50 Hz. By contrast, stunning broilers with 100 mA of 1500 Hz failed to fulfil the criteria set out in this study. Stunning of broilers with 150 mA of 1500 Hz induced epileptiform activity but failed to reduce EEG power contents to less than 10% of pre-stun levels. Therefore, the stunning of broilers with 100 or 150 mA of 1500 Hz may not be adequate to avoid pain and suffering during slaughter. Thus, minimum currents of 100, 150 and 200 mA should be delivered whilst using 50, 400 and 1500 Hz, respectively, to achieve effective electrical stunning in broilers. Severing of the carotid arteries in the neck following head-only electrical stunning, and high frequency (>125 Hz) electrical water bath stunning of broilers should also become a statutory requirement to prevent the return of consciousness during bleeding.

Keywords: animal welfare, chicken, current, frequency, slaughter, stunning

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Peri-natal environmental effects on maternal behaviour, pituitary and adrenal activation, and the progress of parturition in the primiparous sow

S Jarvis*†, BT Reed‡, AB Lawrence†, SK Calvert† and J Stevenson†

† Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Sustainable Livestock Systems, Scottish Agricultural College, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK

‡ Institute of Ecology and Resource Management, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: s.jarvis@ed.sac.ac.uk

 

Abstract

Maternal behaviour in free-ranging sows is normally performed in an isolated nest that the sow has built during the pre-parturient period. Consequently there is much concern over the use of restrictive farrowing crates, in which manipulable substrates are often not provided, for parturient sows under commercial conditions. This study examined the impact of the provision of space and substrate on the performance of maternal behaviour by gilts (primiparous sows) on physiological indicators of stress and on the progress of parturition. Gilts had an indwelling jugular catheter implanted 12 days before their expected farrowing date. At 5 days before expected farrowing, 34 gilts were placed in one of four farrowing treatments: crate without straw (C, n = 8), crate with straw (CS, n = 9), pen without straw (P, n = 9) or pen with straw (PS, n = 8). Behavioural observations of gilts and piglets were made during an 8 h period after the expulsion of the first piglet. Blood samples were taken via a catheter extension to minimise disturbance throughout the parturition period. Gilts in all treatments were most active in the first 2 h: performing more standing/walking, substrate-directed and piglet-directed behaviour. This active phase was followed by inactivity and passivity, as has been seen in free-ranging sows. However, this temporal profile of behaviour was more pronounced in the penned gilts (P and PS), which were more active during the first 2 h than the crated gilts (C and CS). Gilts in crates spent longer sitting throughout the 8 h period and tended to show more savaging of their piglets. Savaging gilts were found to be more active and responsive to piglets. The provision of straw did not alter gilt behaviour but did alter piglet behaviour, with piglets that were born into environments with no straw (C and P) spending more time next to the gilt’s udder. The provision of straw increased the length of parturition (CS and PS), but this did not have detrimental effects on piglet survival. Plasma cortisol was unaffected by space or substrate, however, plasma ACTH was found to be highest in C gilts during the second hour of parturition. Plasma oxytocin was unaffected by space or substrate, however, there was a positive relationship between plasma oxytocin and unresponsiveness to piglets. In conclusion, it appears that farrowing crates thwart interactions between the gilt and her piglets, and that the provision of space during parturition, irrespective of straw availability, facilitates the performance of maternal behaviour that more closely resembles that performed by free-ranging sows.

Keywords: animal welfare, environment, farrowing crate, maternal behaviour, parturition, pig

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Re-assessing the reversibility of melengestrol acetate (MGA) implants in golden-headed lion tamarins (Leontopithecus chrysomelas): a comparison with golden lion tamarins (L. rosalia)

K De Vleeschouwer*†‡, K Leus† and L Van Elsacker†‡

† Centre for Research and Conservation, Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp, K Astridplein 26, B-2018 Antwerp, Belgium

‡ Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610 Wilrijk, Belgium

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: kristel.de.vleeschouwer@zooantwerpen.be

 

Abstract

The reversibility and flexibility of contraceptive methods generally allow for improved genetic and demographic management of captive populations. Earlier studies have produced conflicting results regarding the restoration of reproduction after using melengestrol acetate (MGA) implants in golden-headed (Leontopithecus chrysomelas, GHLT) and golden lion tamarins (L. rosalia, GLT): two closely related species that are physiologically and genetically very similar. The present study investigates the nature of this inter-species difference, presents new data on GHLTs and compares this with published data on GLTs. Analyses showed that around 34% of the GHLTs resumed breeding after their MGA implants were removed or had expired. Non-implanted GHLTs (control group) were significantly more likely to reproduce than females previously treated with an MGA implant, regardless of whether the implant was removed or left to expire. Younger and parous female GHLTs in the control group were more likely to start reproducing. In implanted females, only parity had an impact, with parous females being more likely to resume breeding than non-parous females. In contrast, data published on GLTs indicate that 75% of GLT females resume breeding, and that removing the implant increases the probability of reproduction occurring. Available data suggest that the observed inter-specific differences are related to differences in the weights of the implants used for the two species. For GHLTs, adjusting MGA doses and/or the sizes of the implants currently administered may be required in order to preserve the reproductive potential of individuals. Apart from potentially negative medical and welfare consequences for individual GHLTs, the reduced reversibility of MGA implants also impacts on management practices used to achieve the objectives of conservation breeding programmes. Finally, this study stresses the importance of evaluating the suitability of contraceptive methods at a species-specific level.

Keywords: animal welfare, callitrichids, contraception, melengestrol acetate, golden-headed lion tamarin, population control management

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Consequences of enhancing environmental complexity for laboratory rodents — a review with emphasis on the rat

DB Sørensen*†, JL Ottesen‡ and AK Hansen†

† Centre for Bioethics and Risk Assessment, Division of Laboratory Animal Science and Welfare, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University of Copenhagen, Groennegaardsvej 15, 1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark

‡ Novo Nordisk A/S, Novo Nordisk Park, 2760 Måløv, Denmark

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: dobj@kvl.dk

 

Abstract

Enhancing the complexity of the environments of captive animals is often referred to as environmental enrichment, and aims to have positive effects on the animals’ well-being. Such enrichments may have consequences both for so-called ‘normal’ behaviour and for the pathophysiology of the animals in question. The effects of a lack of environmental complexity, including social isolation, on home cage behaviour and on pathophysiology in rats is considered in this review. Several preference tests on rats — choice tests and operant tests — indicate a preference for bedding, nesting material and social contact. Contradictory research results concerning the need for gnawing objects per se are more difficult to interpret, and it is argued that excessive gnawing may be indicative of primary frustration and hence reduced welfare. One disadvantage of providing environmental enrichment to laboratory animals is a possible increase in subject variability, resulting in the need to use a greater number of test animals. However, this increased variability seems to be inconsistent and is not very well documented. It is argued that in cases where the behavioural benefits of environmental enrichment justify the use of more animals, better welfare should be more highly valued than a reduction in the number of animals used.

Keywords: animal welfare, environmental complexity, environmental enrichment, housing, mice, rat

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The impact of the ethical review process for research using animals in the UK: attitudes to training and monitoring by those working under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 198

IFH Purchase* and M Nedeva†

* Institute of Medicine, Law and Bioethics and School of Biological Sciences, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PT, UK

† Policy Research in Engineering, Science and Technology, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PT, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: ifhp@chadzombe.u-net.com

 

Abstract

A questionnaire-based survey of attitudes to the introduction of the Ethical Review Process (ERP) was carried out in late 1999, some 6–9 months after the introduction of the ERP to all establishments involved in animal experimentation in the UK. Five categories of people working under the Act were surveyed (Certificate Holders, Named Veterinary Surgeons, Project and Personal Licensees and Named Animal Care and Welfare Officers) and about 45% of the 1636 questionnaires were returned. In general, respondents believed that licensees received training in their responsibilities under the Act and that all groups received training in animal welfare and ethics. A high proportion of respondents believed that the quality of training in animal welfare was good or excellent, but about a quarter thought it only adequate. Training in ethics was believed to be of lower quality. A high proportion of Named Veterinary Surgeons and Project Licensees, but fewer Personal Licensees, reported that they attended seminars, talks and training courses about animal welfare and ethics. The majority of respondents believed that the ERP had had no effect on training and animal welfare, although a minority thought it had led to improvements. About two thirds of licensees and Named Veterinary Surgeons reported that their work with animals was monitored, although a third or more believed that their competence was not assessed. The adequacy of training and the assessment of competence are essential for maintaining high standards of animal welfare. Certificate Holders believed that training and monitoring was more effective, and Personal Licensees believed it less effective, than did other groups.

Keywords: animal welfare, attitude survey, ethics, experimental animals, training, UK legislation

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Preferences of growing ducklings and turkey poults for illuminance

CL Barber*†‡, NB Prescott†, CM Wathes†, C Le Sueur§ and GC Perry‡

† Silsoe Research Institute, Silsoe, Bedfordshire MK45 4HS, UK

‡ Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford, Langford House, Bristol BS40 5DU, UK

§ Farm Animal Department, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Southwater, West Sussex RH13 7WN, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints

 

Abstract

The illuminance and spectral power distribution in 19 duckling and 16 turkey poult houses in the UK were sampled. Illuminance was highly variable within duckling houses and to a lesser extent in housing for turkey poults. In a free choice experiment, the preferences of commercial ducklings and turkey poults for four incandescent illuminances (<1, 6, 20 and 200 lx; Osram, 60 W, Pearl) were tested at 2 and 6 weeks of age. Four replicate flocks of 12 birds were given continuous access to four compartments illuminated with each illuminance for six days. The illuminances were changed daily between the compartments. After two days of conditioning, the birds’ location and behaviour was recorded at 10 min intervals over 22 h. Nine and 12 defined behavioural categories were recorded for the ducklings and poults respectively. Ducklings spent significantly more time occupying the three brightest light environments both at 2 and 6 weeks of age, and the least time in the dimmest. Illuminance had a significant effect on the partition of behaviours amongst the light environments. At 2 weeks of age, locomotion and environmentally directed pecking occurred most often in 6, 20 and 200 lx, whereas at 6 weeks, preening and feeding also occurred more often in these light environments. At 6 weeks of age, resting, standing and drinking occurred significantly more often in 6 lx than in the dimmest environment. Turkeys spent most time in the brightest environment at 2 weeks of age, but in 20 and 200 lx at 6 weeks. This change in overall preference was reflected in the partition of different behaviours between the light environments. At 2 weeks of age, all behaviours were observed to occur most often in 200 lx. At 6 weeks, resting and perching were observed least often in

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, ducklings, environmental preference, lighting, turkey poults

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Applying animal learning theory: training captive animals to comply with veterinary and husbandry procedures

RJ Young* and CF Cipreste†

* Conservation, Ecology and Animal Behaviour Group, Prédio 41, Mestrado em Zoologia, Pontifíca Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais, Av. Dom José Gaspar 500, Coração Eucarístico 30535-610, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

† Fundação Zoo-Botânica, Av. Otacílio Negrão de Lima 8000, Pampulha 31365-450, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: robyoung@pucminas.br

 

Abstract

Animals within zoo environments are learning continuously: they learn signals that predict when food is going to arrive or that the presence of a certain person means that something unpleasant may happen. They may learn to control their environment and caregivers: for example, they may learn that if they perform a particular behaviour (eg repetitive behaviour) they will receive a reward (ie food or attention from a caregiver). Using standard operant conditioning and classical conditioning techniques we can easily modify the behaviour of animals in zoos. Animals can be trained to comply with almost all minor veterinary procedures and examinations, such as injection, the measurement of heart rate, the cleaning of teeth and the treatment of superficial injuries. Compliance can be achieved using standard animal learning abilities without the need for punishment type I (ie physical punishment) or immobilisation (chemical or physical). In this paper we discuss how we apply learning theory to such procedures, the dangers associated with such programs (eg injury to the trainer) and the benefits (eg the treatment of large endangered animal species without the use of anaesthetic drugs). Additionally, we briefly discuss the selection and management of animal trainers. The methods we describe here are equally applicable to laboratory, farm and pet animals. Finally, as with all management processes applied to animals, a written policy on animal training needs to be produced by any institution training animals.

Keywords: animal welfare, behavioural management, classical conditioning, husbandry procedures, operant conditioning, veterinary procedures

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Alternatives to nose-ringing in outdoor sows: 2. The provision of edible or inedible overground enrichment

HL Edge*, HLI Bornett, E Newton and SA Edwards

University of Newcastle, Department of Agriculture, King George VI Building, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: h.l.edge@ncl.ac.uk

 

Abstract

The nose-ringing of outdoor pigs (Sus scrofa), although commonly practiced as a means to inhibit rooting behaviour and therefore reduce pasture damage and soil erosion, has been questioned on ethical grounds and alternatives are being sought. In this experiment, the effect of overground environmental enrichment was assessed as a possible alternative. 12 multiparous sows were housed in groups of four and randomly allocated to one of three treatments in a 3 × 3 Latin square design. Treatments were: 1) no environmental enrichment, 2) edible overground enrichment in the form of grass silage, and 3) inedible overground enrichment in the form of branches and tyres. Sows that received silage as overground enrichment spent significantly less time rooting the paddock (P < 0.01) than did sows on the other two treatments. The absence of a significant difference between treatments in overall foraging time budgets suggests that the manipulation of edible substrates may substitute for rooting behaviour in outdoor sows.

Keywords: animal welfare, environmental enrichment, foraging, nose-ringing, pig, rooting behaviour

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Benefits of positive human interaction for socially housed chimpanzees

KC Baker

Tulane National Primate Research Center, 18703 Three Rivers Road, Covington, Louisiana 70433, USA; kate@tpc.tulane.edu

Abstract

Human interaction as environmental enrichment for chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and other primates is widely promoted and believed to be of value, but has been subject to little objective evaluation. This study assessed the effects of positive human interaction (eg relaxed treat feeding, playing, and other forms of social interaction compatible with personnel safety) on the behaviour of adult chimpanzees. Subjects were housed indoors in groups of two or three individuals. The level of interaction during routine care and management (ie in the process of cleaning, feeding, and monitoring) represented the baseline condition. The test condition involved a familiar caretaker spending an additional 10 mins per day, 5 days a week, with each chimpanzee. This study was designed to assess carry-over effects of interaction on behaviour outside the context of care staff presence. Therefore, in all phases of the study, data (97 h of focal animal sampling) were collected only when caretakers were absent from the building. During the increased human interaction phase, the chimpanzees groomed each other more and showed lower levels of the following behaviours: regurgitation/reingestion, other oral abnormal behaviours, inactivity, and reactivity to the displays of neighbouring groups. A trend towards reduced agonistic display was also detected. Attempted interactions with the observer shifted significantly from predominantly aggressive to predominantly affiliative in nature. These results suggest that simple, unstructured affiliation between humans and chimpanzees should be a valued component of behavioural management.

Keywords: animal welfare, behavioural disorders, captive management, chimpanzees, environmental enrichment, human interaction

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Qualitative categories for the interpretation of sheep welfare: a review

F Wemelsfelder* and M Farish

Sustainable Livestock Systems, Scottish Agricultural College, Bush Estate, Penicuik EH26 0QE, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: F.Wemelsfelder@ed.sac.ac.uk

 

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to discuss the relationship between qualitative categories of sheep welfare and associated quantitative behavioural observations. Most scientific studies rely on quantitative measures, however to interpret those measures in terms of an animal’s experience of welfare, the use of qualitative terminologies denoting various emotional states (eg fear, pain, distress) seems hard to avoid. This is especially so in cases where the same behavioural or physiological indicator could have different meanings for welfare; high levels of locomotion, for example, could indicate fear, aggression, or both. To resolve such dilemmas, scientists often resort to judging an animal’s most likely state through direct observation; indeed qualitative characterisations are often intertwined with reported quantitative results. This paper reviews frequently used qualitative categories of sheep welfare and the behavioural context in which these categories are applied. Qualitative judgements of welfare tend to habitually be regarded as ‘subjective’, ie as anthropomorphic and unreliable; however from this review it appears that such judgements reflect the overall demeanour of an animal’s behaviour, and as such may provide a useful empirical basis for the investigation of emotional expression in sheep. Further development of a qualitative behavioural approach may provide a more complete picture of the expressive repertoire of sheep, and enhance our understanding of ways in which these animals experience well-being or distress.

Keywords: animal suffering, animal welfare, emotion, pain, qualitative behaviour assessment, sheep

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How has the risk of predation shaped the behavioural responses of sheep to fear and distress?

CM Dwyer

Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Sustainable Livestock Systems, Scottish Agricultural College, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK; c.dwyer@ed.sac.ac.uk

Abstract

To use behaviours as indicators of stress it is important to understand their underlying causation. For a prey animal in the wild, such as a sheep, behavioural responses have evolved to evade detection and capture by predators. The behavioural responses of the wild ancestors of domestic sheep to the threat of predation are characterised predominantly by vigilance, flocking, flight to cover and behavioural inhibition once refuge has been reached. Some limited defensive behaviours are seen, mainly in females with young against small predators. Vigilance and flight distance are affected by the animal’s assessment of risk and are influenced by the environment, social group size, age, sex and reproductive condition, as well as by previous experience with potential predators. Under conditions of stress, domestic sheep show similar behavioural reactions to wild sheep, although the threshold at which they are elicited may be elevated. This is particularly evident when comparing less selected hill breeds with more highly selected lowland breeds, and suggests that a continuum of responsiveness exists between wild and feral sheep, through hill breeds to the lowland sheep breeds. However, this may be confounded by the previous experience of the breeds, particularly their familiarity with humans. Behavioural and neurobiological evidence suggests that, although the behavioural response to predators (vigilance, flight) is innate, the stimuli that elicit this behavioural pattern may have a learned component. Since vigilance and flight distances are affected by the animal’s perception of threat, they may be useful indices of stress in sheep and, as graded responses, give some indication of the level of threat experienced by the sheep. Thus they may indicate the amount of fear or distress experienced by the sheep and hence have the potential to be used in the assessment of welfare states.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, domestication, predation, sheep, stress

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A review of behavioural and physiological responses of sheep to stressors to identify potential behavioural signs of distress

MS Cockram

Animal Welfare Research Group, Division of Animal Health and Welfare, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Easter Bush, Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9RG, UK; M.S.Cockram@ed.ac.uk

Abstract

This paper discusses the potential for using observations of behaviour to recognise distress in sheep. The term distress is used to describe situations in which an animal is likely to be suffering, and is indicating this by overt behavioural signs. Literature on the behavioural responses of sheep to procedures that induce a physiological stress response is reviewed. This approach is based on human analogy and the assumption that physiological changes can be used to differentiate between stimuli that induce an emotional response in sheep and those that do not. The degree to which the behaviour of sheep in certain situations represents, at least in part, an expression of emotional behaviour, or whether it can be fully explained as a functional response to a specific situation, is a fundamental and unresolved question in ethological and psychological studies. Therefore, the validity of compiling a list of objective common behavioural indicators of distress in sheep will be contentious. However, it is important to be able to recognise and deal with suffering, and the use of behavioural methods for the identification of distress in sheep is a practical welfare issue. There is a need for further research to identify indicators of distress in sheep, but in the meantime it would be reasonable to make the judgement that, in some circumstances, sheep that are found to be vocalising, panting, and/or showing markedly increased locomotory activity could be experiencing distress.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, behavioural indicators, distress, sheep, stress

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Chronic stress in sheep: assessment tools and their use in different management conditions

CM Dwyer* and HLI Bornett†

* Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Sustainable Livestock Systems, Scottish Agricultural College, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK

† Department of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Health, Moulton College, West Street, Moulton, Northampton NN3 7RR, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: c.dwyer@ed.sac.ac.uk

 

Abstract

Chronic stress occurs when animals are unable to deal with a persistent stressor with species-typical responses, or when several stressors are present concurrently. Chronic stress is most frequently considered in intensive systems, but it may also be a welfare concern for extensively managed species, such as the sheep. Here we review behavioural and physiological responses of sheep to experimentally induced chronic stressors to determine relevant indicators of chronic stress. Neuroendocrine responses to chronic stress are difficult to interpret because initial responses are followed by an apparent normalisation. Thus, cortisol or catecholamines may be at or below pre-stress levels during chronic stress, but this varies with different stressors. Chronic stress can also affect reproductive function, impair body and wool growth and meat quality, reduce immune function, and is associated with greater parasite burdens in sheep. Chronic stress induces alterations in behaviour patterns, particularly activity and feeding, and circadian rhythms of behaviour. Stereotypic behaviours, however, are infrequent in sheep and may occur only in experimental conditions of social isolation. Behavioural and physiological data suggest that rough handling and sheepdogs may be sources of chronic stress for sheep. Social subordination and weaning also act as chronic stressors, leading to higher parasitism in these animals and a greater response to additional stressors. Lameness and parasitism are associated with physiological and behavioural responses indicating that these are severe forms of chronic stress in sheep. It is unclear whether environmental stressors, such as weather and food availability, induce chronic stress in sheep. Under-nutrition may, however, be a welfare concern through its impact on lamb survival. The existence of many sources of chronic stress in the management of sheep suggests that the welfare of this species requires more attention than it has currently received.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, chronic stress, handling, lameness, parasitism, sheep

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Foraging enrichment for laboratory rats 

SR Johnson*, EG Patterson-Kane† and L Niel‡

† Scottish Agricultural College, Department of Behavioural Sciences, Animal Biology Division, Sir Stephen Watson Building, Bush Estate, Penicuik EH28 0PO, Scotland, UK

‡ Animal Welfare Program, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver V6T 1Z4, Canada

* Contact for correspondence: 446 Trescartes Unit 3, Spring Creek, Nevada 89815, USA; shylo_johnson@hotmail.com

 

Abstract

The provision of foraging opportunities may be a simple way of improving an animal’s welfare, but this approach has been neglected for laboratory rats (Rattus norvegicus). Standard housing contains little enrichment, and food is often provided ad libitum, which may result in inactivity and obesity, especially in mature males. Foraging enrichments may offer a way to correct these deficiencies. This study compared three potential enrichments — a limited-access hopper, gnawing sticks and a foraging device — to standard housing and feeding conditions, in order to examine their effects on rat body weight, food consumption, behaviour and preferences. The subjects were 12 mature male Wistar rats. Effects were assessed from daily weighing and from video records of the rats’ behaviour over 24 h periods. The rats’ preferences were determined using a four-way test system in which they could choose between a standard cage and cages offering the three potential enrichments. Compared to the standard housing and feeding, the limited-access hopper had a tendency to reduce food consumption, but the time spent feeding increased. The gnawing sticks provided the rats with the opportunity to gnaw, but did not affect other behaviours or body weight. The foraging device had the benefits of reducing aggression and allowing the rats to search for and manipulate food, but resulted in significant gains in body weight. Additionally, the foraging device was the preferred feeding source. Of the four possible feeding locations, the rats spent the least amount of time in the standard cage. The foraging device provided the most benefits but requires further modification to address problems of obesity.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, environmental enrichment, foraging, preference, rats

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What causes crowding? Effects of space, facilities and group size on behaviour, with particular reference to furnished cages for hens

MC Appleby

The Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20037, USA; mappleby@hsus.org

Abstract

Theoretical models are presented of the effects of space, facilities and group size on the behaviour of chickens at high stocking densities, with relevance for all animals. The appropriateness of each model is supported by published data, although such data are scant for some important variables. Freedom of movement is analysed by taking the area of a hen as 475 cm2 and finding the number of free bird spaces left at different space allowances. This provides support for current recommendations of a maximum of seven laying hens per m2 on deep litter, but suggests that a maximum for broilers of 34 kg/m2 unacceptably restricts freedom of movement. In cages, freedom of movement increases with space allowance per hen, and, for a given space allowance, with cage and group size. Nesting behaviour is analysed for synchrony, which decreases with group size. Perching and feeding are often synchronous and the space needed for these is determined by body width. Recommendations are derived for hens in furnished cages. The main part of the cage should be as large as possible; an absolute minimum of 600 cm2 per bird is suggested, but 675 cm2 per bird is probably the minimum practical. Perch and feeder space should be provided at 14 cm or more per bird, with a possible derogation for light hybrids to 12 cm. The number of nest spaces needed varies with the number of birds, with nest spaces being 300 cm2 each. These recommendations sum to a minimum of 800 cm2 per bird for groups of eight or more, 850 cm2 for groups of four to seven, and 900 cm2 for groups of three or fewer, plus litter area. Crowding is primarily caused by limited space allowance, but for a given space allowance it is worse in small enclosures and groups.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, cages, crowding, freedom of movement, space

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Time course of changes in egg-shell quality, faecal corticosteroids and behaviour as welfare measures in laying hens

MS Dawkins*†, A Edmond‡, A Lord†, S Solomon‡ and M Bain‡

† Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK

‡ Division of Veterinary Anatomy, Glasgow Veterinary School, Bearsden, Glasgow G61 1QH, Scotland, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: marian.dawkins@zoo.ox.ac.uk

 

Abstract

The aim of this study was to assess the extent to which three non-invasive measures of welfare in laying hens (egg-shell quality, corticosteroid levels as measured from the birds’ faeces, and behavioural preferences) were correlated over a period of five days in two groups of birds. One group had access to an enriched test area (bark chips on the floor and a tray of sprouted wheat); the other group had access to a comparably sized barren area (bare wire mesh floor). The measure of preference used was the amount of time hens spent in the test area as measured each day. It was predicted that birds with access to the less preferred environment would show higher levels of faecal corticosteroids and egg-shell anomalies. However, although the birds showed a preference for the enriched environment from Day 1, the other two measures did not follow the same pattern. Faecal corticosteroid metabolites showed an initial increase in both groups, which declined significantly by Day 4, with the ‘enriched’ birds in fact showing a trend for higher levels than the ‘barren’ birds. Shell thickness also showed a change over the five days, but with a different time course: declining to a minimal level on Day 3 and then rising again by Day 5. No measure of shell quality was significantly different between the two environments, but there was a trend for changes in shell thickness to be more pronounced in eggs from enriched birds. The results indicate the caution that needs to be exercised in using shell quality or corticosteroid measurements in isolation from assessments of what the animals themselves prefer.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, corticosteroid, hens, preference, shell quality

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Lying behaviour and adrenocortical response as indicators of the thermal tolerance of pigs of different weights

E Hillmann*†‡, C Mayer‡§ and L Schrader†§

† Institute of Animal Sciences, Physiology and Animal Husbandry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland

‡ Centre for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs, Swiss Federal Veterinary Office, CH-8356 Ettenhausen, Switzerland

§ Institute for Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry, Federal Agricultural Research Centre, Doernbergstrasse 25-27, D-29223 Celle, Germany

*Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: edna.hillmann@inw.agrl.ethz.ch

 

Abstract

The aim of this study was to assess optimal temperature ranges for fattening pigs of different weights kept in pens with partially slatted floors. We examined the behavioural and adrenocortical responses of pigs of different weights (25–35 kg, 50–70 kg, and >85 kg) to a wide range of ambient temperatures (2–29°C). On three days of each experimental period, we took saliva samples for the analysis of cortisol concentration, and recorded lying behaviour from 0800–0600h. Behavioural and cortisol parameters were analysed using linear mixed effects models. Optimal temperature ranges for the three weight-classes were calculated using logistic regression. Pigs chose different areas for resting depending on ambient temperature. With increasing temperature, pigs used the dung area more often and lay more often without contact with pen mates. Compared to lighter pigs, heavier pigs lay without contact with pen mates at lower temperatures. In general, lying without contact occurred at temperatures 5–7°C lower than lying in the dung area. Huddling increased with decreasing temperature, and, with increasing weight, pigs showed huddling at lower temperatures. There was a significant increase in cortisol levels at high ambient temperatures in pigs >85 kg. In pens with partially slatted floors, the results indicate temperature ranges within the thermal tolerance of pigs to be 19–21°C for pigs weighing 25–35 kg (lying area of 0.46 m2/pig), 10–17°C for pigs between 50–70 kg and 5–17°C for pigs >85 kg (both weights: lying area of 0.67 m2/pig).

Keywords: adaptation, animal welfare, cortisol, lying behaviour, pig, temperature, thermoregulation

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Body weight change as a measure of stress: a practical test

GW McLaren*, F Mathews, R Fell, M Gelling and DW Macdonald

Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: graeme.mclaren@zoo.ox.ac.uk

 

Abstract

We report on the efficacy of body weight change as a measure of trapping and handling stress in two species of wild small mammal: bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) and wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus). We tested two hypotheses: (1) that weight change after capture and handling is related to the intensity of the trapping and handling regime, and (2) that weight change after an intensive handling regime is related to an individual’s current pattern of energy expenditure. Trapped wood mice that were subjected to intensive handling (intensive stressor) lost more weight than did animals that were handled minimally (less intensive stressor), but this was not the case for bank voles. Patterns and factors related to body weight change in response to intensive handling also differed between the two species: heavier and non-breeding bank voles were more likely to lose weight, but this was not true for wood mice, and none of the factors we measured was found to affect weight loss in this species. Our results were broadly consistent with the predictions of the biological cost hypothesis. We discuss the limitations and benefits of weight loss as a measure of stress.

Keywords: animal welfare, body weight, handling, small mammals, stress, trapping

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Habituation, capture and relocation of Sykes monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis albotorquatus) on the coast of Kenya

NN Moinde†, MA Suleman†‡, H Higashi§ and J Hau*‡

† Division of Ecology, Conservation and Diseases, Institute of Primate Research, PO Box 24481, Karen, Nairobi, Kenya

‡ Department of Neuroscience, Division of Comparative Medicine, University of Uppsala, BMC Box 570, 75123 Uppsala, Sweden

§ Wildlife Workshop, 2-7-18-501, Higashiyamagata, Yamagata, Japan 990

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: jann.hau@bmc.uu.se

 

Abstract

The objective of this project was to collect scientific data to assist in the development of guidelines for the humane relocation of threatened and endangered arboreal non-human primate species. A troop of 31 Lowland Sykes monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis albotorquatus) was habituated to fruit bait for capture in a village and relocation to a previously selected suitable site in a protected forest reserve approximately 30 km away. Sixty-five percent (n = 20) of the animals were captured and relocated. This subgroup comprised one adult male, eight adult females, two subadult females, three juvenile males, four juvenile females and two infant males. Although the relocated group originated from one single group, post-translocation telemetry signals demonstrated that it split into two groups, which established themselves approximately 2–4 km apart in their new territory; the adult male eventually became solitary. The factors of importance for the successful capture and relocation of forest primates were found to include: proper understanding of troop home-range utilisation and of social bond organisation within the troop, method and period of habituation, method of release, suitability of the new habitat with respect to the ecological niche requirements of the species in question, and the period of post-relocation monitoring.

Keywords: animal welfare, Cercopithecus mitis albotorquatus, conservation, release, relocation, Sykes monkeys

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The effect of transport stress on neutrophil activation in wild badgers (Meles meles)

I Montes*†‡, GW McLaren‡, DW Macdonald‡ and R Mian†

† Department of Biomedical Science, School of Science and the Environment, Coventry University, Cox Street, Coventry CV1 5FB, UK

‡ Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: Inigo.montes@zoo.ox.ac.uk

 

Abstract

Wild badgers (Meles meles) in Wytham woods, Oxfordshire, are routinely trapped, transported to a central field laboratory, studied and released as part of an on-going population study. These procedures have been carefully developed to minimise impact on the badgers’ welfare; however they are potentially stressful, and, as part of our on-going welfare refinements, and our exploration to develop methods for quantifying stress in wild mammals, we studied the effects of transport stress on neutrophil activation in wild trapped badgers. Blood samples were obtained from 28 badgers. We compared three transport regimes: transported (n = 9), transported and rested for at least 30 mins (n = 11), and not transported (n = 8). Total and differential white cell counts were carried out and neutrophil activation was measured by the nitroblue tetrazolium test. Our goal was primarily to validate neutrophil activity as an indicator of stress, on the basis that the transport treatment was expected to be more stressful than the non-transport treatment. There were significant increases in % activated circulating neutrophils in response to transport. This study supports the proposition that stress affects circulating neutrophil numbers and the state of their activation, as determined by the nitroblue tetrazolium reduction assay, and therefore adds weight to the idea that neutrophil activation is a potential measure of stress in wild animals.

Keywords: animal welfare, badgers, measuring stress, Meles meles, neutrophil activation, transport

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The ability of laying hens to negotiate perches of different materials with clean or dirty surfaces

GB Scott* and G MacAngus

Harper Adams University College, Edgmond, Newport, Shropshire TF10 8NB, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: gscott@harper-adams.ac.uk

 

Abstract

Increasingly, perches for laying hens are being made from metals and plastics. There is nothing in the literature regarding how easily birds jump between perches of different materials, or how their ability to do so changes with faecal contamination of the perches. Forty-four medium hybrid brown hens negotiated perches of wood (5 cm × 5 cm, rounded edges), metal (half-round section, diameter 4 cm) or poly-vinyl-chloride (PVC: circular section, diameter 4 cm), which were either clean or dirty (poultry manure 0.5–1.0 cm deep). The time to jump to the destination perch (0.75 m from the start perch), number of squats (pre-jumping behaviour), slips, failures to jump (in 300 s) and crashes were recorded. Compared to wood and metal perches, birds took significantly longer to jump from PVC perches when they were clean, but there was no difference when the perches were dirty. Birds slipped significantly more on clean metal or PVC perches compared to clean wood perches. The birds took significantly longer to jump from metal or wooden perches when they were dirty compared to when they were clean. These data may suggest that PVC is not a suitable material for perches. Slipperiness is important. The birds apparently found the metal and PVC perches more slippery than the wooden perch, although the metal perch did not cause the birds to delay jumping. A slippery perch may deter the birds from attempting to jump. Manure on the perches reduced the slipperiness of the metal and PVC perches. Once perches become dirty, any welfare issues concerning the risk of injury from slippery perches cease to be as important as the potential slipperiness of the manure itself.

Keywords: animal welfare, hens, manure, perches, perch material, slipperiness

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The influence of toys on the behaviour and welfare of kennelled dogs

DL Wells

Canine Behaviour Centre, School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland, UK; d.wells@qub.ac.uk

Abstract

This study explored the influence of five toys (squeaky ball, non-squeaky ball, Nylabone chew, tug rope and Boomer ball) on the behaviour of 32 adult dogs housed in a rescue shelter. The dogs were exposed to each toy separately for six days, with an intervening period of one day between toys. The dogs’ location in their kennels (front or back), activity (moving, standing, sitting or resting) and vocalisation (barking, quiet or other) were recorded over 4 h at 10 min intervals on Days 1, 3 and 5 during a control condition (no toy present) and during five experimental (toy) conditions. Whether or not the dogs were observed playing with the toys during the experimental conditions was also recorded. The dogs spent relatively little (<8%) of the overall observation time playing with the toys. The toys elicited varying degrees of interest, with dogs showing a preference for the Nylabone chew over the other toys. The dogs’ interest in the toys waned over time, but the speed of habituation to the Nylabone chew was slower than to any of the other toys. The dogs’ activity was significantly related to toy condition: dogs spent more time moving and less time standing during the Nylabone chew, squeaky ball and non-squeaky ball conditions than during any of the other conditions. It is suggested that the welfare of kennelled dogs may be slightly enhanced by the addition of suitable toys to their kennels. It is advised, however, that toys are rotated to encourage exploration and reduce habituation. The provision of other forms of environmental enrichment is also recommended.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, dogs, enrichment, housing conditions, rescue shelters, toys

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Comparison of religious slaughter of sheep with methods that include pre-slaughter stunning, and the lack of differences in exsanguination, packed cell volume and meat quality parameters

MH Anil, T Yesildere, H Aksu, E Matur, J L McKinstry, O Erdogan, S Hughes and C Mason

Abstract

UK legislation requiring pre-slaughter stunning has certain exemptions for religious slaughter. Supporters of both Muslim (Halal) and Jewish (Shechita) slaughter methods claim that the efficiency of the bleed out is adversely affected by stunning. In this study, electrical stunning followed by neck cutting, and captive bolt stunning followed by neck cutting were compared with the Muslim slaughter method (neck cutting without stunning) in sheep. Total blood loss and percentage blood loss, expressed as a percentage of live weight, were calculated and compared between groups. In addition, the time taken to reach 25%, 50%, 75% and 90% of total blood loss was calculated and compared. There was no apparent difference in the packed cell volume levels between groups. Slaughter method did, however, affect meat pH and colour. The results show that the bleed out after neck cutting is not adversely affected by electrical or captive bolt stunning; nor is an improved bleed out achieved by neck cutting without stunning.

Keywords: animal welfare, blood loss, Halal, religious slaughter, Schechita, stunning

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Evaluation of the tranquilliser trap device (TTD) for improving the humaneness of dingo trapping

CA Marks, L Allen, F Gigliotti, F Busana, T Gonzalez, M Lindeman and PM Fisher

Abstract 

Predation of sheep and cattle by the dingo (Canis lupus dingo) is implicated in significant stock losses throughout much of mainland Australia. Leg-hold traps are commonly used for dingo control and ways are sought to improve the humaneness of these devices. We evaluated the performance of the tranquilliser trap device (TTD) attached to Victor Soft-Catch® traps for their ability to deliver a sedative and anxiolytic drug to trapped dingoes. A trapping programme was conducted in south-west Queensland where traps were set alternatively with a TTD containing either 800 mg of diazepam (drug TTD) or a placebo (placebo TTD). All TTDs included 20 mg of the bait marker iophenoxic acid (IPA) to ascertain dosing success. Each trap was fitted with an activity-monitoring data logger that recorded time of capture and subsequent dingo activity. In 41 out of 48 (85.4%) captures the TTD was ruptured and released its contents. No elevation in serum iodine levels above 1 mg ml–l resulting from the ingestion of IPA occurred in 8 out of 36 (22.2%) captures, which suggests a higher rate of dosage failure. Dingo activity was highest in both groups immediately after capture, but declined after the first hour in each. The activity of dingoes that accepted a drug TTD was significantly reduced compared to those that took the placebo. However, tooth and limb damage scores did not differ significantly between the drug and placebo group. Much of the physical trauma may have occurred within the first hour of capture when activity was intense and before drug onset in the TTD drug group. The use of TTDs containing sedative and anxiolytic drugs has the potential to reduce anxiety and distress associated with prolonged captivity, but the delivery of a lethal agent that is rapidly acting and humane may result in better welfare outcomes.

Keywords: 1080, animal welfare, PAPP, para-aminopropiophenone, predator control, red fox

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Fox control using a para-aminopropiophenone formulation with the M-44 ejector.

CA Marks, F Gigliotti, F Busana, M Johnston and M Lindeman

Abstract

The M-44 ejector (‘ejector’) has proven to be a highly target-specific means of delivering toxicants to the exotic European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in south-eastern Australia. Para-aminopropiophenone (PAPP) is a potent methaemoglobin (MetHb) forming compound in canids. A formulation of PAPP, dimethylsulphoxide (DMSO) and condensed milk was investigated as a new toxicant formulation for delivery by the ejector. Dosage of eight foxes in the laboratory with a sequential dose demonstrated that the formulation caused a dose-dependent and rapid elevation of MetHb. A strong inverse correlation between MetHb and oxyhaemoglobin concentrations was detected in each case. The symptoms of the toxicosis in the laboratory included progressive cyanosis, lethargy and then collapse when MetHb levels reached 56–76%. A polynomial model was a good fit for describing the relationship between sub-lethal doses of PAPP and the resulting peak MetHb levels. In a pen trial, an ejector was fitted with a bait and loaded with a standard dose of 226 mg PAPP in the same formulation and set at one end of a pen. After voluntarily triggering the ejector, all five foxes in this trial became progressively more lethargic and either lay prostrate or collapsed after 14–25 min, and death was confirmed after a mean of 43 min. We compared some clinical features of PAPP toxicosis with 15 cases of lethal sodium fluoroacetate (1080) poisoning using 0.5 mg kg–1 1080. PAPP produced a mean time to death that was 7.7 times faster than 1080, with the onset of first symptoms being 15 times faster. It was associated with much less activity prior to death and convulsions, spasms and paddling commonly associated with 1080 poisoning after collapse were not detected during PAPP toxicosis. We conclude that the PAPP formulation appears to be a rapidly acting and apparently humane lethal agent for fox control when used in conjunction with the ejector.

Keywords: animal welfare, dingo, humaneness, trapping, vertebrate pest, wild dog

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Welfare aspects of chick handling in broiler and laying hen hatcheries

TG Knowles, SN Brown, PD Warriss, A Butterworth and L Hewitt

Abstract

Six commercial hatcheries were visited in the United Kingdom, three of which processed laying hen chicks and three of which processed broiler chicks. The accelerations experienced by the chicks passing through the handling systems were evaluated using miniature data logging accelerometers, which were sent through the systems. The lengths, speeds, and heights of drops of the pathways within each system were also measured. The response of the chicks to the handling was measured in terms of mortality, orientation, righting time (as a measure of disorientation) and tonic immobility. The study showed there to be a range in the physical severity of handling across the hatcheries that could also be seen in terms of differences in the measurements made on the chicks. Nonetheless, the welfare of the chicks passing through the automated systems appeared to be generally acceptable. However, given the velocities and accelerations within these handling systems, there is scope for considerable damage to the chicks, and for poor welfare, if systems are not properly set up or maintained.

Keywords: animal welfare, broiler, chick, handling, hatchery, laying hen

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Effects of cage height and stocking density on the frequency of comfort behaviours performed by laying hens housed in furnished cages

 MJ Albentosa and JJ Cooper

Abstract

Spatial restriction and low cage height can reduce the rate at which comfort activities, such as wing flaps, stretching, body shakes and tail wags, are carried out by laying hens in conventional wire cages. In this study we investigated the performance of these activities in laying hens housed in furnished cages with perches and nest boxes, similar to those required in EU legislation from 2012. We compared the behaviour of groups of eight hens at a stocking density of 762 cm2 per bird with that of pairs of hens housed at a lower stocking density of 3048 cm2 per bird at two minimum cage heights of 38 cm and 45 cm. The rates of wing/leg stretches (0.80 stretches per hen per hour), tail wagging (0.76), body shaking (0.48), wing raising (0.19) and feather raising (0.05) were low, whilst full wing flaps were not observed during the study. Hourly rates of performance of wing/leg stretches (0.45 vs 1.06) and tail wags (0.34 vs 1.25) were significantly lower in eight-bird cages than in two-bird cages. We conclude that reducing the number of hens in furnished cages increases opportunities to perform certain comfort activities, but that, even at low stocking densities, comfort activities are rarely observed.

Keywords: animal welfare, cage height, comfort behaviour, furnished cage, laying hen, stocking density

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Influence of social status on the welfare of growing pigs housed in barren and enriched environments

 NE O’Connell, VE Beattie and BW Moss

Abstract 

One hundred and twenty-eight pigs were reared in barren or enriched environments from birth to slaughter at 21 weeks of age. Pigs remained as litter-mate groups until 8 weeks of age when they were mixed into groups of eight animals. These groups were balanced for gender and weight and contained two pigs from each of four different litters. Each pig was assigned high or low social status on the basis of relative success in aggressive interactions at mixing. Injury levels were assessed on a weekly basis from 8 to 21 weeks of age. Pigs were exposed to two group food competition tests after a period of food restriction at 10 weeks of age, and to an individual novel pen test at 11 weeks of age. Behavioural and plasma cortisol responses to both types of test were recorded. Low social status was associated with increased injuries to the head, neck and ears, and therefore reduced welfare. Pigs with low social status showed reduced resource-holding ability in the food competition test, and greater avoidance of a novel object during the novel pen test. It is suggested that avoidance of the novel object reflected ‘learned’ fearfulness in these individuals. Environmental enrichment did not negate the effect of low social status on injury levels, but did appear to reduce the negative influence of low social status on stress during food restriction, and led to a reduction in fearfulness in response to the novel pen test. These results suggest that environmental enrichment may improve the welfare of growing pigs with low social status.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, physiology, pigs, rearing environment, social status

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The effect of blindfolding horses on heart rate and behaviour during handling and loading onto transport vehicles

R Parker, R Watson, E Wells, SN Brown, CJ Nicol and TG Knowles

Abstract 

Blindfolding is routinely used to aid the handling and loading of horses that are difficult to control. Fifteen relatively well-behaved horses of varying ages and disciplines were used to investigate the effects of blinkering and blindfolding on behaviour and heart rate in three situations: whilst stabled, when being led in a ménage, and during loading onto a lorry. Heart rate increased in all three situations when a blindfold was used, and when animals were handled by the least experienced of three handlers. The effects of blinkering on heart rate and behaviour were small compared with blindfolding. Overall, blindfolding appeared to make the horses more nervous and difficult to handle. However, the study does not discount the practical application that blindfolding may have for improving welfare and safety when handling certain individual horses. This work forms the basis for further studies involving animals less accustomed or disposed to being handled.

Keywords: animal welfare, blindfold, blinker, handling, horse, loading, transport

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The effect of transport on cortisol, glucose, heart rate, leukocytes and body weight in captive-reared guanacos (Lama guanicoe)

B Zapata, J Gimpel, C Bonacic, BA González, JL Riveros, AM Ramírez, F Bas and DW Macdonald

Abstract 

Current procedures for ranching and sustainable use of guanacos necessitate their transport. Transportation is a risky process for animals, and is a particular concern for wild-caught or semi-domesticated species such as the guanaco — a wild South American camelid species increasingly being established on farms in Chile and Argentina. This study investigated the effect of transport on the physiological and behavioural responses of eight castrated adult male guanacos, transported on a single 2 h journey at a stocking density of 113.5 kg m–2 (0.76 m2 per animal). Plasma cortisol and blood glucose concentration, total and differential white blood cell (WBC) counts, heart rate, and body weight were measured one week before, immediately before, immediately after, 2 h after and one week after transport. Behavioural responses were recorded during handling prior to loading. Immediately after transport we found significant increases in plasma cortisol concentrations and neutrophil:lymphocyte (N:L) ratio, the latter peaking 2 h after transport. Heart rate increased significantly only during loading, while body weight remained constant throughout. Behavioural responses related to handling (jumping, vocalising, kicking, spitting and urinating) were not associated with the physiological response. All variables returned to pre-transport values within one week. Transport of guanacos under these conditions produced physiological changes similar to those associated with a mild and transient stress response in other species and which, we judge, fall comfortably within acceptable limits for their welfare.

Keywords: animal welfare, cortisol, guanaco, stress, transport

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Computer-assisted enrichment for zoo-housed orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus)

LR Tarou, CW Kuhar, D Adcock, MA Bloomsmith and TL Maple

Abstract 

The study of environmental enrichment has identified a variety of effective forms of enrichment, but there are widespread problems associated with their use. Few forms of enrichment are cognitively challenging, and even the most effective often result in rapid habituation. This study examined the use of a computer–joystick system, designed to increase in complexity with learning, as a potential form of enrichment. Eight orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), housed in male/female pairs, were observed for 120 h during a baseline period and 120 h when the computer–joystick apparatus was available. Data were collected in 1 h sessions using instantaneous group scan sampling with 30 s intervals. The orangutans spent 25.9% of the scans using the joystick system. One member of each pair monopolised the computer system: ‘high users’ spent 48.9% of scans using the joystick system compared with 2.9% by ‘low users’. Behavioural changes associated with the provision of the computer included increases in aggressive behaviour, anxiety-related behaviours, solitary play, contact with and proximity to a social partner, and decreases in feeding. The lack of habituation by the high users, both within and across sessions, indicates that computer-assisted tasks may be a useful form of environmental enrichment for orangutans. However, the significant increase in aggression indicates that this form of enrichment may be more suitable for singly caged animals, or that the provision of multiple apparatuses should be tested for the ability to eliminate potential competition over the device.

Keywords: animal welfare, enrichment, great apes, non-human primates, orangutans, psychological well-being

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