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Open AccessArticle

Effectiveness of Stocking Density Reduction on Mitigating Lameness in a Charolais Finishing Beef Cattle Farm

Dipartimento di Medicina Animale, Produzioni e Salute, Università degli Studi di Padova, 35020 Legnaro, Italy
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Animals 2020, 10(7), 1147; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071147
Received: 17 June 2020 / Revised: 1 July 2020 / Accepted: 3 July 2020 / Published: 7 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
In finishing beef cattle farms, the limited space allowance and the fully slatted floor system could negatively affect animals’ performance, health and welfare. A larger individual space was provided as a strategy to mitigate lameness problems in a commercial farm. A larger space allowance may contain the spread of pathogens, leading to a reduction in the incidence of lameness and infectious diseases, and may decrease the risk of animals stepping into each other causing claw and leg injuries. Increasing the space allowance did not affect animal performance, whereas it had a positive implication through a significant reduction in the number of treatments of lame and sick animals.
This study aimed at assessing whether a reduction in stocking density (SKD) would mitigate lameness and positively affect the performance and health of Charolais bulls in an Italian commercial farm. Bulls were distributed in groups of 10 or 8 animals/pen for high (HD) or low density (LD) corresponding to an individual space of 3.5 or 4.7 m2, respectively. Bulls were fitted with collars that measured rumination time and activity. Three 8-h observational sessions were conducted to record behaviors. Data about health conditions were collected daily. No differences were found in the animals’ performance. However, performance results might have been impaired by the culling rate experienced during the trial, which prevented from keeping a consistent SKD. Behaviors did not differ between groups, except for rumination time, which was higher for LD bulls during the third observation (p < 0.05). However, rumination time, recorded by collars, did not vary among treatments. There were no differences in the percentage of sick or lame bulls, but the percentage of animals treated repeatedly due to relapse was higher for the HD group (p < 0.05). It was concluded that a larger space allowance could improve the health of bulls kept on fully slatted floors. View Full-Text
Keywords: beef cattle; animal welfare; space allowance; average daily gain; health beef cattle; animal welfare; space allowance; average daily gain; health
MDPI and ACS Style

Cortese, M.; Brščić, M.; Ughelini, N.; Andrighetto, I.; Contiero, B.; Marchesini, G. Effectiveness of Stocking Density Reduction on Mitigating Lameness in a Charolais Finishing Beef Cattle Farm. Animals 2020, 10, 1147. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071147

AMA Style

Cortese M, Brščić M, Ughelini N, Andrighetto I, Contiero B, Marchesini G. Effectiveness of Stocking Density Reduction on Mitigating Lameness in a Charolais Finishing Beef Cattle Farm. Animals. 2020; 10(7):1147. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071147

Chicago/Turabian Style

Cortese, Martina; Brščić, Marta; Ughelini, Nicola; Andrighetto, Igino; Contiero, Barbara; Marchesini, Giorgio. 2020. "Effectiveness of Stocking Density Reduction on Mitigating Lameness in a Charolais Finishing Beef Cattle Farm" Animals 10, no. 7: 1147. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071147

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