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Agriculture 2018, 8(9), 136;

“Naturalness” and Its Relation to Animal Welfare from an Ethological Perspective

Animal Husbandry, Albrecht Daniel Thaer-Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10115 Berlin, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 July 2018 / Revised: 23 August 2018 / Accepted: 31 August 2018 / Published: 3 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethology and Animal Welfare)
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Here we view naturalness from the point of view of proximate behavioural control. The mechanisms of behaviour control have evolved in order that animals reach a specific goal after they have performed motivated behaviour. This goal was closely related to a function at the time when the mechanism evolved. Function and goal may be de-coupled in a novel environment such as artificial housing conditions. We argue that an animal that can perform the behaviour it wants and can reach the goals it likes can behave according to what is “in-its-nature” even under human influenced conditions. We illustrate this argument using abnormal sucking behaviour in calves and piglets as well as dehorning in cattle and goats. We conclude that a minimal welfare standard is ensured for animals that are given the opportunity to behave as is in-their-nature. View Full-Text
Keywords: ultimate; proximate; want; like; motivation; goal; function; sucking behaviour; de-horning ultimate; proximate; want; like; motivation; goal; function; sucking behaviour; de-horning

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Gygax, L.; Hillmann, E. “Naturalness” and Its Relation to Animal Welfare from an Ethological Perspective. Agriculture 2018, 8, 136.

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