Special Issue "Domestic Animal Behavior and Well-Being"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Welfare".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Matthew Jorgensen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
College of Veterinary Medicine1800 Christensen DriveAmes, Iowa 50011-1134
Interests: Domestic animals; Animal behavior; Animal welfare; Ethology; Human-animal interaction; Human-animal bond; Animal health; Animal affect
Dr. Jesse Andrew Robbins
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
College of Veterinary Medicine,Iowa State University, 1800 Christensen Drive Ames, IA 50011, USA
Interests: agriculture; animal welfare/ethics environmental ethics ethology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Domestic animals play an enormous role in modern society—they are a critical source of food, fiber and labor, they are our companions, protectors, and our source of comfort. Our relationship with domestic species stretches back millennia and, while it has undoubtedly influenced the biological success of the species involved, this relationship does not always benefit the welfare of these animals. Whether pets, livestock, or workers, domestic animals face significant welfare challenges through our impact on their biological function, affective state, and ability to live natural lives. Increasingly over recent decades, it has been recognized that the well-being of domestic species is an ethical imperative and this social concern is driving major advances in the ways we select, manage, and perceive these animals.

We invite original research that identifies welfare issues facing domestic species, that generate new and robust methods for assessing these issues, and which allows us to address them in practice. These topics can include welfare-relevant aspects of selection, animal health, animal management, and welfare assessment within the human-domestic species relationship, as well as methods for measuring the animal’s welfare experience. Additional topics may include the use of behavioral/ethological methods for measuring welfare or interactions between behavior and other aspects of the domestic animal care. This Special Issue will focus particularly on those species that have been shaped by the process of domestication, and will include work focused specifically on companion, working, and farmed animals.

Dr. Matthew Jorgensen
Dr. Jesse Andrew Robbins
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Domestic animals
  • Animal behavior
  • Animal welfare
  • Ethology
  • Human-animal interaction
  • Human-animal bond
  • Animal health
  • Animal affect

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Dietary Inositol Reduces Fearfulness and Avoidance in Laying Hens
Animals 2019, 9(11), 938; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110938 - 08 Nov 2019
Abstract
Myo-inositol (inositol) affects memory, and the incidence of depression and anxiety in mammals. An experiment was designed to determine if pure inositol (0.16%), or high levels of phytase (3000 FTU/kg) affect the behaviour of fully beaked Lohmann LSL lite hens fed amino acid [...] Read more.
Myo-inositol (inositol) affects memory, and the incidence of depression and anxiety in mammals. An experiment was designed to determine if pure inositol (0.16%), or high levels of phytase (3000 FTU/kg) affect the behaviour of fully beaked Lohmann LSL lite hens fed amino acid sufficient (19% crude protein (CP)) and deficient diets (16% CP), from 19 to 59 weeks of age. The data collected included live-scan behaviour observations and novel object (NO) tests (both at 1, 10 and 40 weeks of the trial); heterophil-to-lymphocyte (H/L) ratios (week 1 and week 40 of the trial); end of trial feather cover, and comb and skin lesions; and daily mortality. Reducing CP increased sitting by 2.5%. Inositol, but not phytase, reduced the latency to peck at the NO by 300 sec. Inositol reduced vent feather cover by 12% and tended to increase mortality by 13%. No effects on H/L ratio, and comb or skin lesions were found. In conclusion, regardless of the source, inositol reduced vent feather cover, while it tended to increase mortality. Only pure inositol reduced fearfulness in laying hens. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Domestic Animal Behavior and Well-Being)
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Open AccessArticle
What Makes a Rabbit Cute? Preference for Rabbit Faces Differs according to Skull Morphology and Demographic Factors
Animals 2019, 9(10), 728; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100728 - 26 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Domesticated rabbits typically exhibit shorter, flatter skulls than their wild counterparts (brachycephalism). However, brachycephaly is associated with considerable health problems, including problems with dentition. The aim of this study was to establish which type of rabbit face people prefer, with a particular emphasis [...] Read more.
Domesticated rabbits typically exhibit shorter, flatter skulls than their wild counterparts (brachycephalism). However, brachycephaly is associated with considerable health problems, including problems with dentition. The aim of this study was to establish which type of rabbit face people prefer, with a particular emphasis on skull morphology and brachycephaly. We grouped 25 images of rabbit faces by cephalic degree based on ratings assigned by 134 veterinary professionals. An online questionnaire was then launched, in which people could rate each of the 25 images according to preference for the rabbits’ faces, and a total of 20,858 questionnaires were completed globally. Repeated-measure, multi-level general linear modelling revealed mildly-brachycephalic rabbits to be the most preferred type of rabbit, and moderately-dolichocephalic (longer skulled) rabbits to be the least preferred. The preference for brachycephalic rabbits was stable across continents, and as such it is highly plausible that human preference has been a driver for the shortening of the skull typically seen in domestic rabbits, perhaps as a result of the ‘baby-schema’. Additional features of rabbit faces that were preferred include a soft, medium-light fur appearance and being generally short-furred. These novel insights may prove useful in the improvement of the public understanding of rabbit health and welfare. The relationship between preference and skull shape is particularly pertinent to future work concerning rabbit health, given the cross-species evidence that having a flat face is associated with chronic health conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Domestic Animal Behavior and Well-Being)
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Open AccessArticle
Housing Horses in Individual Boxes Is a Challenge with Regard to Welfare
Animals 2019, 9(9), 621; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090621 - 28 Aug 2019
Abstract
Horses are mainly housed in individual boxes. This housing system is reported to be highly detrimental with regard to welfare and could trigger the expression of four behavioural indicators of a compromised welfare state: stereotypies, aggressiveness toward humans, unresponsiveness to the environment, and [...] Read more.
Horses are mainly housed in individual boxes. This housing system is reported to be highly detrimental with regard to welfare and could trigger the expression of four behavioural indicators of a compromised welfare state: stereotypies, aggressiveness toward humans, unresponsiveness to the environment, and stress-related behaviours. The aim of this study was to identify housing and management factors that could alleviate the detrimental effects of individual boxes on welfare. A total of 187 horses were observed over 50 days by scan sampling. The impact of 12 factors was investigated on the expression of the four behavioural indicators in three different analyses. The results show that the majority of factors tested did not influence the expression of the behavioural indicators. Only three (straw bedding, a window opening onto the external environment, and a reduced quantity of concentrated feed) would have beneficial, although limited, effects. Furthermore, the longer the horses spent in individual boxes, the more likely they were to express unresponsiveness to the environment. To preserve the welfare of horses, it seems necessary to allow free exercise, interactions with conspecifics, and fibre consumption as often as possible, to ensure the satisfaction of the species’ behavioural and physiological needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Domestic Animal Behavior and Well-Being)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Maternal Care During Rearing in White Leghorn and Brown Nick Layer Hens on Cognition, Sociality and Fear
Animals 2019, 9(7), 454; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070454 - 18 Jul 2019
Abstract
Both genetic background and maternal care can have a strong influence on cognitive and emotional development. To investigate these effects and their possible interaction, White Leghorn (LH) and Brown Nick (BN) chicks, two hybrid lines of layer hen commonly used commercially, were housed [...] Read more.
Both genetic background and maternal care can have a strong influence on cognitive and emotional development. To investigate these effects and their possible interaction, White Leghorn (LH) and Brown Nick (BN) chicks, two hybrid lines of layer hen commonly used commercially, were housed either with or without a mother hen in their first five weeks of life. From three weeks of age, the chicks were tested in a series of experiments to deduce the effects of breed and maternal care on their fear response, foraging and social motivation, and cognitive abilities. The LH were found to explore more and showed more attempts to reinstate social contact than BN. The BN were less active in all tests and less motivated than LH by social contact or by foraging opportunity. No hybrid differences were found in cognitive performance in the holeboard task. In general, the presence of a mother hen had unexpectedly little effect on behavior in both LH and BN chicks. It is hypothesized that hens from commercially used genetic backgrounds may have been inadvertently selected to be less responsive to maternal care than ancestral or non-commercial breeds. The consistent and strong behavioral differences between genetic strains highlights the importance of breed-specific welfare management processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Domestic Animal Behavior and Well-Being)
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Open AccessArticle
Are Behavioral Tests Capable of Measuring Positive Affective States in Growing Pigs?
Animals 2019, 9(5), 274; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050274 - 24 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This study examined whether the human approach test (HAT) or novel object test (NOT), which are considered as suitable tests for assessing the level of fear or anxiety in animals, are suitable to detect a positive affective state in 297 fattening pigs from [...] Read more.
This study examined whether the human approach test (HAT) or novel object test (NOT), which are considered as suitable tests for assessing the level of fear or anxiety in animals, are suitable to detect a positive affective state in 297 fattening pigs from three different farms. The investigated farms consisted of a barren (farm 1, n = 160) and an enriched (farm 2, n = 106; farm 3, n = 31) husbandry. Each pig was subjected three times to the HAT and NOT during fattening (at the start, middle, and end of fattening). The pigs housed in the barren environment showed quicker approach latencies than the enriched-housed pigs (HAT: farm 1: 7.4 ± 1.1 s vs. farm 2: 57.1 ± 1.1 s, respectively, farm 3: 58.3 ± 1.3 s (end of fattening); NOT: farm 1: 4.5 ± 1.1 s vs. farm 2: 23.0 ± 1.1 s, respectively, farm 3: 9.0 ± 1.2 s (end of fattening)). The same pattern of behavior was observed for the duration of contacts in the HAT but not in the NOT (HAT: farm 1: 83.8 ± 1.1 s vs. farm 2: 6.3 ± 1.1 s, respectively, farm 3: 7.6 ± 1.3 s (end of fattening)). However, due to controversially discussed literature, it is difficult to conclude whether the described differences in the pigs’ behavior between the two housing systems might indicate useful indicators to detect their affective state. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Domestic Animal Behavior and Well-Being)
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Open AccessFeature PaperOpinion
Welfare-aligned Sentience: Enhanced Capacities to Experience, Interact, Anticipate, Choose and Survive
Animals 2019, 9(7), 440; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070440 - 13 Jul 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The focus of this opinion is on the key features of sentience in animals which can experience different states of welfare, encapsulated by the new term ‘welfare-aligned sentience’. This term is intended to exclude potential forms of sentience that do not enable animals [...] Read more.
The focus of this opinion is on the key features of sentience in animals which can experience different states of welfare, encapsulated by the new term ‘welfare-aligned sentience’. This term is intended to exclude potential forms of sentience that do not enable animals in some taxa to have the subjective experiences which underlie different welfare states. As the scientific understanding of key features of sentience has increased markedly during the last 10 to 15 years, a major purpose here is to provide up-to-date information regarding those features. Eleven interconnected statements about sentience-associated body functions and behaviour are therefore presented and explained briefly. These statements are sequenced to provide progressively more information about key scientifically-supported attributes of welfare-aligned sentience, leading, in their entirety, to a more comprehensive understanding of those attributes. They are as follows: (1) Internal structure–function interactions and integration are the foundations of sentience; (2) animals posess a capacity to respond behaviourally to a range of sensory inputs; (3) the more sophisticated nervous systems can generate subjective experiences, that is, affects; (4) sentience means that animals perceive or experience different affects consciously; (5) within a species, the stage of neurobiological development is significant; (6) during development the onset of cortically-based consciousness is accompanied by cognitively-enhanced capacities to respond behaviourally to unpredictable postnatal environments; (7) sentience includes capacities to communicate with others and to interact with the environment; (8) sentience incorporates experiences of negative and positive affects; (9) negative and positive affective experiences ‘matter’ to animals for various reasons; (10) acknowledged obstacles inherent in anthropomorphism are largely circumvented by new scientific knowledge, but caution is still required; and (11) there is increasing evidence for sentience among a wider range of invertebrates. The science-based explanations of these statements provide the foundation for a brief definition of ‘welfare-aligned sentience’, which is offered for consideration. Finally, it is recommended that when assessing key features of sentience the same emphasis should be given to positive and negative affective experiences in the context of their roles in, or potential impacts on, animal welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Domestic Animal Behavior and Well-Being)
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