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Researching Human-Cattle Interaction on Rangelands: Challenges and Potential Solutions

Animal Behavior and Cognition Laboratory, Department of Animal Science, University of California-Davis, One Shields Ave, Davis, CA 95616, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Maria Camila Ceballos and Aline Sant’Anna
Animals 2021, 11(3), 725;
Received: 12 February 2021 / Revised: 25 February 2021 / Accepted: 5 March 2021 / Published: 7 March 2021
Research investigating the influence of human-animal interactions on beef cattle production and welfare often occurs during stress-inducing contexts, such as restraint and transport. Given that beef cattle which graze on expansive rangelands do not frequently interact with humans, assessment of animal response to humans may be inaccurate if they are only recorded during such stressful context. Future research aimed at identifying the causes and impacts of individual human–cattle relationships may consider conducting experiments while the cattle are in a low stress context, such as while ruminating, resting, or, grazing. By adapting methods used to research wildlife response to humans, researchers may be able to better understand how animal personality and previous experience can influence cattle production and welfare.
Human-animal interaction (HAI) research spans across many scientific fields and animal taxa. For livestock species, HAI research tends to focus on animals that are managed in close proximity with humans such as poultry, dairy cattle, and swine. Given the nature of rangeland cattle production, HAI research with beef cattle often occurs in and around the processing environment. This high arousal context may skew behavioral and physiological responses by the animals due to the potentially negative interaction. The aim of this review is to describe cattle production on rangelands, examine the considerations and limitations of current HAI research used to evaluate interaction quality or traits of rangeland cattle, identify contexts in which rangeland cattle interact with humans, and provide recommendations for improving future HAI research with rangeland cattle. Current research delineating individual differences in response to humans by beef cattle occur during routine husbandry and management on rangelands (pragmatic) and in a research context (experimental). Human-cattle interactions can be distinguished based on the quality and goal of the interaction into four broad categories: human presence, human approach, human contact, and restraint. Limitations of HAI research with rangeland cattle are identified and reconciled by recommendations for HAI research that can take place outside of the processing environment (i.e., while cattle are ruminating, resting or grazing on rangelands). View Full-Text
Keywords: animal personality; animal welfare; beef cattle; human-animal interaction; rangeland animal personality; animal welfare; beef cattle; human-animal interaction; rangeland
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MDPI and ACS Style

Creamer, M.; Horback, K. Researching Human-Cattle Interaction on Rangelands: Challenges and Potential Solutions. Animals 2021, 11, 725.

AMA Style

Creamer M, Horback K. Researching Human-Cattle Interaction on Rangelands: Challenges and Potential Solutions. Animals. 2021; 11(3):725.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Creamer, Maggie, and Kristina Horback. 2021. "Researching Human-Cattle Interaction on Rangelands: Challenges and Potential Solutions" Animals 11, no. 3: 725.

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