Stereotypic Behavior in Fattening Bulls
Institute for Animal Hygiene, Animal Welfare and Animal Behavior, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, D-30173 Hannover, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 December 2019 / Revised: 18 December 2019 / Accepted: 22 December 2019 / Published: 24 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Cattle
Cattle housed under intensive housing conditions may display stereotypic behavior like manipulating objects or body parts of conspecifics with their tongue or rolling and unrolling their tongue repeatedly (so-called tongue playing). These stereotypies may indicate restricted welfare. To our knowledge, there are no studies on the occurrence of stereotypies in fattening cattle. Therefore, this study aimed to analyze the prevalence of stereotypies in 243 fattening bulls housed under different conditions in straw-bedded pens in groups of 14, 16, 22, and 33 animals. The animals in one housing system were fed six times per day, the other animals twice per day. The animals’ behavior was observed at three different stages during the fattening period. Two hundred and thirty-four of 243 bulls were observed performing stereotypies at least once. In the different housing systems, an average of 0.2 to 0.9 stereotypies occurred per animal and hour. The most common stereotypy was manipulating objects, followed by tongue playing and manipulating conspecifics. These results show that stereotypies are a common problem in fattening cattle, occurring frequently under different housing conditions. As this may indicate restrictions in welfare, further studies on stereotypies in fattening cattle are needed in order to detect the reasons for their occurrence.