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Animals, Volume 6, Issue 3 (March 2016) – 10 articles

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Open AccessArticle
Intermittent Suckling Causes a Transient Increase in Cortisol That Does Not Appear to Compromise Selected Measures of Piglet Welfare and Stress
Animals 2016, 6(3), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani6030024 - 17 Mar 2016
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2056
Abstract
This study tested the hypothesis that piglets subjected to intermittent suckling (IS) would show changes in physiological and behavioral indices indicative of compromised welfare in the peri-weaning period. A total of 21 primiparous sows and their litters were allocated to either a control [...] Read more.
This study tested the hypothesis that piglets subjected to intermittent suckling (IS) would show changes in physiological and behavioral indices indicative of compromised welfare in the peri-weaning period. A total of 21 primiparous sows and their litters were allocated to either a control treatment (n = 10) where piglets were weaned conventionally, or an IS treatment (n = 11) where piglets were separated daily from their sows for 8 h starting the week before weaning. Performance, physiological and behavioral measures were taken at various time points during the week before and after weaning. Plasma cortisol levels were higher (p = 0.01) in IS piglets 7 d before weaning. Regardless of treatment, the N:L ratio at 3 d and 7 d after weaning was higher (p < 0.05) than that at 1 d before weaning. The IS piglets ate more creep feed during lactation (p < 0.05), and there was a tendency for the IS piglets to gain more weight between 3 d and 7 d after weaning (p < 0.1). This study showed that, aside from an increase in cortisol at the start of IS, piglets subjected to IS did not display physiological or behavioral changes indicative of compromised welfare. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Numbers and Characteristics of Cats Admitted to Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Shelters in Australia and Reasons for Surrender
Animals 2016, 6(3), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani6030023 - 16 Mar 2016
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 3343
Abstract
Despite high numbers of cats admitted to animal shelters annually, there is surprisingly little information available about the characteristics of these cats. In this study, we examined 195,387 admissions to 33 Australian RSPCA shelters and six friends of the RSPCA groups from July [...] Read more.
Despite high numbers of cats admitted to animal shelters annually, there is surprisingly little information available about the characteristics of these cats. In this study, we examined 195,387 admissions to 33 Australian RSPCA shelters and six friends of the RSPCA groups from July 2006 to June 2010. The aims of this study were to describe the numbers and characteristics of cats entering Australian RSPCA shelters, and to describe reasons for cat surrender. Data collected included shelter, state, admission source, age, gender, date of arrival, color, breed, reproductive status (sterilized or not prior to admission), feral status and surrender reason (if applicable). Most admissions were presented by members of the general public, as either stray animals or owner-surrenders, and more kittens were admitted than adults. Owner-related reasons were most commonly given for surrendering a cat to a shelter. The most frequently cited owner-related reason was accommodation (i.e., cats were not allowed). Importantly, although the percentage of admissions where the cat was previously sterilized (36%) was the highest of any shelter study reported to date, this was still lower than expected, particularly among owner-surrendered cats (47%). The percentage of admissions where the cat was previously sterilized was low even in jurisdictions that require mandatory sterilization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Management and Welfare of Shelter Animals)
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Open AccessArticle
Characteristics of Excitable Dog Behavior Based on Owners’ Report from a Self-Selected Study
Animals 2016, 6(3), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani6030022 - 15 Mar 2016
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3602
Abstract
Past research has found that excitable dog behavior is prevalent among sheltered and owned dogs and many times is a reason for canine relinquishment. In spite of its prevalence in the canine population, excitable behavior is relatively unstudied in the scientific literature. The [...] Read more.
Past research has found that excitable dog behavior is prevalent among sheltered and owned dogs and many times is a reason for canine relinquishment. In spite of its prevalence in the canine population, excitable behavior is relatively unstudied in the scientific literature. The intent of this research was to understand the experience of owners of excitable dogs through the analysis of self-administered online questionnaires completed by owners as part of another study. We found that certain daily scenarios tended to prompt excitable behavior, with excitability most common when the owner or other people came to the dog’s home. All owners experienced some level of frustration with their dog’s excitable behavior, with the majority being very frustrated. Many dogs in the sample had other behavior problems, with disobedient, destructive, chasing and barking behaviors being the most commonly reported. Other characteristics of excitable dogs also are discussed. Although the ability to generalize from these results is likely limited, due to targeted recruitment and selection of owners of more excitable dogs, this research provides valuable insights into the owner’s experience of excitable behavior. We hope this study prompts more research into canine excitable behavior which would expand our understanding of this behavior and help behaviorists, veterinarians, and shelters develop tools for managing it, as well as provide better education to owners of excitable dogs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Management and Welfare of Shelter Animals)
Open AccessOpinion
Updating Animal Welfare Thinking: Moving beyond the “Five Freedoms” towards “A Life Worth Living”
Animals 2016, 6(3), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani6030021 - 14 Mar 2016
Cited by 160 | Viewed by 20753
Abstract
The Five Freedoms have had major impact on animal welfare thinking internationally. However, despite clear initial statements that the words ‘freedom from’ should indicate ‘as free as possible from’, the Freedoms have come to be represented as absolute or fundamental freedoms, even rights, [...] Read more.
The Five Freedoms have had major impact on animal welfare thinking internationally. However, despite clear initial statements that the words ‘freedom from’ should indicate ‘as free as possible from’, the Freedoms have come to be represented as absolute or fundamental freedoms, even rights, by some animal advocate and other groups. Moreover, a marked increase in scientific understanding over the last two decades shows that the Freedoms do not capture the more nuanced knowledge of the biological processes that is germane to understanding animal welfare and which is now available to guide its management. For example, the named negative experiences of thirst, hunger, discomfort and pain, and others identified subsequently, including breathlessness, nausea, dizziness, debility, weakness and sickness, can never be eliminated, merely temporarily neutralised. Each one is a genetically embedded element that motivates animals to behave in particular ways to obtain specific life-sustaining resources, avoid or reduce physical harm or facilitate recovery from infection or injury. Their undoubted negativity creates a necessary sense of urgency to respond, without which animals would not survive. Also, the temporary neutralisation of these survival-critical affects does not in and of itself generate positive experience. This questions the commonly held assumption that good animal welfare will result when these internally generated negative affects are minimised. Animals may also experience other negative affects that include anxiety, fear, panic, frustration, anger, helplessness, loneliness, boredom and depression. These situation-related affects reflect animals’ perceptions of their external circumstances. Although they are elicited by threatening, cramped, barren and/or isolated conditions, they can often be replaced by positive affects when animals are kept with congenial others in spacious, stimulus-rich and safe environments which provide opportunities for them to engage in behaviours they find rewarding. These behaviours may include environment-focused exploration and food acquisition activities as well as animal-to-animal interactive activities, all of which can generate various forms of comfort, pleasure, interest, confidence and a sense of control. Animal welfare management should aim to reduce the intensity of survival-critical negative affects to tolerable levels that nevertheless still elicit the required behaviours, and should also provide opportunities for animals to behave in ways they find rewarding, noting that poor management of survival-critical affects reduces animals’ motivation to utilize such rewarding opportunities. This biologically more accurate understanding provides support for reviewing the adequacy of provisions in current codes of welfare or practice in order to ensure that animals are given greater opportunities to experience positive welfare states. The purpose is to help animals to have lives worth living, which is not possible when the predominant focus of such codes is on survival-critical measures. Finally, an updated characterisation of animal welfare that incorporates this more accurate understanding is presented. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Management of Horses during Fireworks in New Zealand
Animals 2016, 6(3), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani6030020 - 09 Mar 2016
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3717
Abstract
Within popular press there has been much coverage of the negative effects associated with firework and horses. The effect of fireworks has been documented in companion animals, yet no studies have investigated the negative effects, or otherwise, of fireworks on horses. This study [...] Read more.
Within popular press there has been much coverage of the negative effects associated with firework and horses. The effect of fireworks has been documented in companion animals, yet no studies have investigated the negative effects, or otherwise, of fireworks on horses. This study aims to document horse responses and current management strategies to fireworks via an online survey. Of the total number of horses, 39% (1987/4765) were rated as “anxious”, 40% (1816/4765) “very anxious” and only 21% (965/4765) rated as “not anxious” around fireworks. Running (82%, 912/1107) was the most common behaviour reported, with no difference between property type (p > 0.05) or location (p > 0.05). Possibly as a consequence of the high frequency of running, 35% (384/1107) of respondents reported having horses break through fences in response to fireworks and a quarter (26%, 289/1099) reported that their horse(s) had received injuries associated with fireworks. The most common management strategy was moving their horse(s) to a paddock away from the fireworks (77%) and to stable/yard them (55%). However, approximately 30% reported these management strategies to be ineffective. Of the survey participants, 90% (996/1104) were against the sale of fireworks for private use. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
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Open AccessArticle
Welfare Impacts of Pindone Poisoning in Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
Animals 2016, 6(3), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani6030019 - 26 Feb 2016
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2073
Abstract
Control methods used to manage unwanted impacts of the European rabbit in Australia and New Zealand include the use of toxic bait containing the anticoagulant pindone. Towards increased certainty in evaluating the animal welfare impacts of pindone poisoning in rabbits, we recorded behavioral [...] Read more.
Control methods used to manage unwanted impacts of the European rabbit in Australia and New Zealand include the use of toxic bait containing the anticoagulant pindone. Towards increased certainty in evaluating the animal welfare impacts of pindone poisoning in rabbits, we recorded behavioral and post-mortem data from rabbits which ingested lethal quantities of pindone bait in a laboratory trial. Pindone poisoning in rabbits resulted in welfare compromise, primarily through functional impairments related to internal haemorrhage over a maximum duration of 7 days. Applying this data to a formal assessment framework for ranking animal welfare impacts indicated that pindone had relatively high severity and also duration of welfare impacts in comparison to other rabbit control methods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethical and Welfare Dimensions of the Management of Unwanted Wildlife)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Freezing Conditions on Fecal Bacterial Composition in Pigs
Animals 2016, 6(3), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani6030018 - 25 Feb 2016
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 2790
Abstract
Sample preservation and recovery of intact DNA from gut samples may affect the inferred gut microbiota composition in pigs. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of the freezing process and storage temperature prior to DNA extraction on DNA recovery and bacterial community [...] Read more.
Sample preservation and recovery of intact DNA from gut samples may affect the inferred gut microbiota composition in pigs. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of the freezing process and storage temperature prior to DNA extraction on DNA recovery and bacterial community composition in pig feces using quantitative PCR. Fresh fecal samples from six growing pigs were collected and five aliquots of each prepared: (1) total DNA extracted immediately; (2) stored at −20 °C; (3) snap frozen and stored at −20 °C; (4) stored at −80 °C; and (5) snap frozen and stored at −80 °C. Results showed that DNA yields from fresh fecal samples were, on average, 25 to 30 ng higher than those from the various stored samples. The DNA extracted from fresh samples had more gene copies of total bacteria and all targeted bacterial groups per gram feces compared to DNA extraction from frozen samples. Data presentation also modified the observed effect of freeze storage; as results for Lactobacillus group, Enterococcus spp., Streptococcus spp., Clostridium cluster IV, Bacteroides-Prevotella-Porphyromonas and Enterobacteriaceae showed the opposite effect when expressed as relative abundance, by being greater in freeze stored feces than in fresh feces. Snap freezing increased the relative proportion of Clostridium cluster IV by 24%. In conclusion, the freezing process affected DNA yield and bacterial abundances, whereas snap freezing and storage temperature had only little influence on abundances of bacterial populations in pig feces. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Can Non-Beak Treated Hens be Kept in Commercial Furnished Cages? Exploring the Effects of Strain and Extra Environmental Enrichment on Behaviour, Feather Cover, and Mortality
Animals 2016, 6(3), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani6030017 - 25 Feb 2016
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1953
Abstract
Commercial laying hens are prone to injurious pecking (IP), a common multifactorial problem. A 2 × 2 × 2 factorial design assessed the effects of breed (Lohmann Brown Classic (L) or Hyline Brown (H)), beak treatment (infra-red treated (T) or not (NT)), and [...] Read more.
Commercial laying hens are prone to injurious pecking (IP), a common multifactorial problem. A 2 × 2 × 2 factorial design assessed the effects of breed (Lohmann Brown Classic (L) or Hyline Brown (H)), beak treatment (infra-red treated (T) or not (NT)), and environment (extra enrichment (EE) or no extra enrichment (NE)) on mortality, behaviour, feather cover, and beak shape. Hens were allocated to treatments at 16 weeks of age and data were collected every four weeks from age 19 to 71 weeks. Data were analysed in Genstat using mixed models. L hens had higher all and IP-related mortality than H hens (p < 0.003), whilst NT hens had higher mortality than T hens but only due to culling of whole cages (p < 0.001). Feather cover for L hens deteriorated more quickly with age at most body sites than H hens (age × breed × body site p < 0.001). For NT hens, feather cover was worse at most body sites (beak treatment × body site p < 0.001), and worsened more quickly with age (age × beak treatment p = 0.014) than T hens. L and NE hens performed more bird-to-bird pecking than H and EE hens, respectively (breed p = 0.015, enrichment p = 0.032). More damage to mats and ropes was caused by L and NT hens than by H and T hens, respectively (age × breed p < 0.005, beak treatment p < 0.001). Though H hens had fewer mortalities and better feather cover, breed effects may have been influenced by farm management practices, as they may have been better suited to H than L hens. Though EE hens performed less bird-to-bird pecking, the enrichments were less effective at reducing feather cover damage and mortality than expected. Full article
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Open AccessDiscussion
Reconciling Horse Welfare, Worker Safety, and Public Expectations: Horse Event Incident Management Systems in Australia
Animals 2016, 6(3), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani6030016 - 24 Feb 2016
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 4978
Abstract
Human-horse interactions have a rich tradition and can be highly rewarding, particularly within sport and recreation pursuits, but they can also be dangerous or even life-threatening. In parallel, sport and recreation pursuits involving animals, including horses, are facing an increased level of public [...] Read more.
Human-horse interactions have a rich tradition and can be highly rewarding, particularly within sport and recreation pursuits, but they can also be dangerous or even life-threatening. In parallel, sport and recreation pursuits involving animals, including horses, are facing an increased level of public scrutiny in relation to the use of animals for these purposes. However, the challenge lies with event organisers to reconcile the expectations of the public, the need to meet legal requirements to reduce or eliminate risks to paid and volunteer workers, and address horse welfare. In this article we explore incident management at horse events as an example of a situation where volunteers and horses can be placed at risk during a rescue. We introduce large animal rescue skills as a solution to improving worker safety and improving horse welfare outcomes. Whilst there are government and horse industry initiatives to improve safety and address animal welfare, there remains a pressing need to invest in a strong communication plan which will improve the safety of workplaces in which humans and horses interact. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
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Open AccessReview
The Contribution of Equitation Science to Minimising Horse-Related Risks to Humans
Animals 2016, 6(3), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani6030015 - 23 Feb 2016
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 4525
Abstract
Equitation science is an evidence-based approach to horse training and riding that focuses on a thorough understanding of both equine ethology and learning theory. This combination leads to more effective horse training, but also plays a role in keeping horse riders and trainers [...] Read more.
Equitation science is an evidence-based approach to horse training and riding that focuses on a thorough understanding of both equine ethology and learning theory. This combination leads to more effective horse training, but also plays a role in keeping horse riders and trainers safe around horses. Equitation science underpins ethical equitation, and recognises the limits of the horse’s cognitive and physical abilities. Equitation is an ancient practice that has benefited from a rich tradition that sees it flourishing in contemporary sporting pursuits. Despite its history, horse-riding is an activity for which neither horses nor humans evolved, and it brings with it significant risks to the safety of both species. This review outlines the reasons horses may behave in ways that endanger humans and how training choices can exacerbate this. It then discusses the recently introduced 10 Principles of Equitation Science and explains how following these principles can minimise horse-related risk to humans and enhance horse welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horses and Risk)
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