Special Issue "Impact of Environment and Stressors on Animal Welfare"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 April 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Janeen L. Salak-Johnson
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Oklahoma State University, Departments of Animal and Food Sciences, United States
Interests: stress and environmental physiology, sow housing, maternal-fetal interaction, prenatal stress, and effects of the environment on immune status, behavior, and well-being of swine and other livestock

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Stress is an intrinsic part of life, and successfully adapting to stimuli that induce stress is essential for the survival of farm animals kept in a complex and ever-changing environment. Despite the presence of numerous components in an animal’s environment acting as supportive elements, at times, the surrounding stimuli become challenging and overwhelming, thus evoking a stress response. Farm animals experience varying degrees of environmental and psychological stressors throughout their lives, as well as a wide array of abiotic stressors associated with social interactions, common husbandry practices (weaning, mixing, castration, dehorning, teeth clipping, etc.), handling, and transportation, just to name a few. These environmental forces (or other stressors) disrupt homeostasis, resulting in new adaptations that can be either detrimental or advantageous. When the stressful conditions become too demanding for the animal to adapt or withstand stress, the consequences will be altered biological functions with possible development of pathologies. Moreover, the biological cost of stress on animal welfare depends on the characteristics of the stressor, such as the stressor type (psychological, physiological, or physical), duration (chronic versus acute), and timing, as well as the genetic predisposition of the animal, its age, physiological status, and social status. Many interacting factors can influence the outcome: in this respect, data is conflicting, but a consistent finding across species is that, whenever the environment and other stressors are too demanding so that the animal struggles to cope with them, growth, reproduction, performance, productivity, or health are negatively affected. Despite a plethora of research studies trying to understand the complexity of the physiological and behavioral reactions mediating the stress responses, it is not possible to generalize the biological consequences of the impact of stress on animals, because so many factors contribute to the evoked biological response and the biological cost. Moreover, an animal cannot be in a state of good welfare if environmental or psychological challenges disrupt either its mental or its physiological state.

We invite original research papers that address the influence of any aspect of the environment and any stressors on both short- and long-term animal growth, reproduction, productivity, health, and welfare and propose strategies to minimize the negative impacts of agricultural practices. In particular, of special interests are studies integrating traditional physiological metrics with behavioral, immunological, and proteomics analyses and those examining the stress-mediated effects on gut microbiota and immune function, alternative management and nutritional strategies to minimize the consequences of stress, long-term consequences of prenatal and postnatal stress, and mechanisms and biomarkers related to an animal’s capacity to cope.

Dr. Janeen L. Salak-Johnson
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Behavior
  • Biomarkers
  • Environment
  • Gut
  • Immune
  • Livestock
  • Microbiota
  • Poultry
  • Stress
  • Welfare

Published Papers (14 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessCommunication
Preliminary Study: Depriving Piglets of Maternal Feces for the First Seven Days Post-Partum Changes Piglet Physiology and Performance before and after Weaning
Animals 2019, 9(5), 268; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050268 - 23 May 2019
Abstract
Coprophagy has been described in piglets although its importance has not been fully assessed. The aim of this study was to evaluate how deprivation of maternal feces influenced piglet physiology, behavior, and performance. Eight litters were randomly assigned to one of two treatments. [...] Read more.
Coprophagy has been described in piglets although its importance has not been fully assessed. The aim of this study was to evaluate how deprivation of maternal feces influenced piglet physiology, behavior, and performance. Eight litters were randomly assigned to one of two treatments. Control (CON) litters had access to maternal feces while deprived (DEP) litters were deprived of maternal feces for the first 7 d post-partum. Piglet behavior was quantified for 24 h at 7 d of age. Blood samples were collected from one male and female from each litter at 0, 7, and 21 d for hematological analyses, and post-weaning performance was assessed until 123 d post-weaning. No treatment effects were observed on piglet behavior. DEP piglets had 25% lower leukocyte counts (p < 0.01). Relative to DEP litters, CON litters had increased post-weaning feed intake (0.998 vs 0.901 kg/d; p = 0.02) and weight gain (0.536 vs 0.483 kg/d; p < 0.01). At 123 d post-weaning, CON pigs were 9.3 ± 2.3 kg heavier than treatment pigs (p < 0.01). These results suggest that access to maternal feces improves immunocompetence and growth performance. Further studies are needed to explore the physiological mechanisms through which maternal feces improve growth performance, including nutritional and microbial factors, or the presence of maternal semiochemicals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Environment and Stressors on Animal Welfare)
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Open AccessArticle
Cow Lying Behaviour and Bedding Quality Changes during Five Weeks on a Stand-Off Pad
Animals 2019, 9(5), 257; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050257 - 21 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Bedding quality and cow lying time were measured during five weeks in a normal farm practice (NFP) off-paddock system with no bedding refreshment. Two groups of 100 non-lactating dairy cows were compared to groups of 8 cows with fresh bedding (FB). The cows [...] Read more.
Bedding quality and cow lying time were measured during five weeks in a normal farm practice (NFP) off-paddock system with no bedding refreshment. Two groups of 100 non-lactating dairy cows were compared to groups of 8 cows with fresh bedding (FB). The cows were on a woodchip pad for 18 h/d at a space allowance of 5.4 m2/cow, with 6 h/d on pasture for 5 weeks. Lying times were recorded continuously for 60 cows per group using accelerometers. Bedding moisture content was measured weekly. Data for each NFP group were analysed and compared with those of their respective FB group using repeated measures. The lying time declined over five weeks from 11.6 h/day during the first week to 5.6 h/day during the fifth week (SED = 0.3; F1,25 = 351.56; p < 0.001). The moisture content of the bedding increased over the five weeks and was significantly higher for both NFP groups (NFP Group 1: F5,59 = 8.33; p < 0.001; NFP Group 2: F5,61 = 5.54; p < 0.001) than those of the respective FB groups. The percentage of total time lying when in the paddock increased for the NFP groups, reaching 15% in the last week of the trial. During five weeks on a stand-off pad, bedding quality deteriorated, and cows lay down less, to such an extent that welfare was compromised. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Environment and Stressors on Animal Welfare)
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Open AccessArticle
Physiological and Behavioural Responses of Cattle to High and Low Space, Feed and Water Allowances During Long Distance Transport in the South of Chile
Animals 2019, 9(5), 229; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050229 - 10 May 2019
Abstract
Long distance transport of livestock from Patagonia to central Chile involves both road and sea transport and has a potential impact on the welfare of animals. Fifty Bos taurus cattle of approximate age six months were exposed to a journey of four days, [...] Read more.
Long distance transport of livestock from Patagonia to central Chile involves both road and sea transport and has a potential impact on the welfare of animals. Fifty Bos taurus cattle of approximate age six months were exposed to a journey of four days, with both the sea and road components undertaken in a truck (roll-off roll-on system) with two pens of different dimensions. Thirty-two and eighteen cattle were randomly allocated to two treatment groups: Low and High welfare standards, which were provided 0.66 m2/head and 0.86 m2/head, respectively, and a fixed amount of feed and water daily to each pen, 1.25 kg hay/head and 3.1 L water/head in the Low welfare treatment and 2.22 kg/head and 5.6 L/head in the High welfare treatment, respectively. Low welfare animals had increased plasma total protein and albumin, which is suggested to be due to limited water availability, and also haptoglobin, suggesting inflammatory responses. Cattle in the High welfare treatment spent more time eating and ruminating than those in the Low space allowance, but they had increased cortisol at the end of the journey, perhaps reflecting increased fighting with more space. Cattle welfare in both treatments was adversely affected by the limited feed and water supplies, with increased beta-hydroxybutyrate at the end of the voyage; total protein was increased in just the low welfare standard group where low space allowance and less food and water was provided. Creatine phosphokinase also increased after the journey, compared with before, indicating bruising. Limiting feed and water availability to cattle in the low welfare treatment resulted in physiological evidence of undernutrition and low hydration status, but it also reduced the stress response, probably because there was less fighting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Environment and Stressors on Animal Welfare)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluating the Effects of In Utero Heat Stress on Piglet Physiology and Behavior Following Weaning and Transport
Animals 2019, 9(4), 191; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9040191 - 24 Apr 2019
Abstract
The study objective was to determine whether in utero heat stress (IUHS) affects piglet physiology and behavior following common production practices. A total of 12 gilts were confirmed pregnant and allocated to either heat stress (HS; n = 6) or thermoneutral (TN; n [...] Read more.
The study objective was to determine whether in utero heat stress (IUHS) affects piglet physiology and behavior following common production practices. A total of 12 gilts were confirmed pregnant and allocated to either heat stress (HS; n = 6) or thermoneutral (TN; n = 6) conditions on day 30–60 of gestation. At weaning (22.5 ± 2.3 days of age), 1 boar and 1 barrow of median weight were selected from each litter and transported for approximately 7 h. Piglets were then blocked into pens (n = 2/pen) by in utero treatment (IUHS (n = 12) or in utero thermoneutral (IUTN, n = 12)) and sexual status (boar (n = 6/in utero treatment) or barrow (n = 6/in utero treatment)). Plasma cortisol, non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), insulin and glucose were evaluated 1 day prior to transport (pre-transport) and immediately after transport (post-transport). Behavioral data were collected on day 1–7 for 60 min at four different time points each day. In utero heat stressed piglets exhibited reduced cortisol concentrations compared to IUTN piglets immediately post-transport (p = 0.04). Glucose concentrations were not affected by in utero treatment. Insulin concentrations were reduced in IUTN piglets post-transport compared to pre-transport (p = 0.002), but no differences were detected for IUHS pigs. Non-esterified fatty acids tended to be reduced overall for IUHS vs. IUTN pigs (p = 0.08). Overall, IUHS piglets performed more drinking behaviors (p = 0.02) and tended to perform more aggressive behaviors (p = 0.07) than IUTN piglets in the 7 days post-transport. In summary, there was some evidence for altered physiological and behavioral responses among IUHS piglets compared to IUTN piglets following weaning and transport. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Environment and Stressors on Animal Welfare)
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Open AccessArticle
Grooming Device Effects on Behaviour and Welfare of Japanese Black Fattening Cattle
Animals 2019, 9(4), 186; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9040186 - 23 Apr 2019
Abstract
In livestock farming, a stark or barren environment compromises animal welfare. Environmental enrichment has been used to address the issue. For this study, after fattening cattle were provided with a grooming device (a brush), its effect on animal self-grooming and welfare were investigated. [...] Read more.
In livestock farming, a stark or barren environment compromises animal welfare. Environmental enrichment has been used to address the issue. For this study, after fattening cattle were provided with a grooming device (a brush), its effect on animal self-grooming and welfare were investigated. For Research trial 1 and 2, respectively, 28 and 11 Japanese Black steers were observed. Three or four of the animals were group-housed in a pen. For Trial 1, half of the animals were provided with a brush. The animals’ behaviour, carcass weight, and Viscera disease were recorded. Enrichment animals (E) performed self-grooming and scratching of the animals’ body on the brush and pen structures more than control animals (C) did (mean time budgets, 3.34% (SD = 2.48) in E and 0.89% (SD = 0.81) in C, GLMM, z value = 8.28, p < 0.001). The number of animals in which viscera disease was detected after slaughter was lower in E than in C (E = 0, C = 4, a Fisher’s exact probability test, p = 0.03). In Trial 2, brush use behaviour was observed continuously for 72 h. The observation revealed that the animals scratched various body parts on the brush. Results show that providing a brush as environmental enrichment improves welfare by satisfying the motivation of fattening cattle to perform self-grooming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Environment and Stressors on Animal Welfare)
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Open AccessArticle
Comparing the Effect of Different Management and Rearing Systems on Pigeon Squab Welfare and Performance after the Loss of One or Both Parents
Animals 2019, 9(4), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9040165 - 14 Apr 2019
Abstract
Pigeon squabs completely depend on their parents for care and nourishment. The loss of one or both parents affects squabs’ successful fledging. This study was carried out on young squabs to compare the effect of pigeon parent sex and different fostering methods on [...] Read more.
Pigeon squabs completely depend on their parents for care and nourishment. The loss of one or both parents affects squabs’ successful fledging. This study was carried out on young squabs to compare the effect of pigeon parent sex and different fostering methods on squab welfare (behavior and growth performance). Two experiments were carried out. In the first experiment, the squabs were divided into three groups. Group 1 (control) consisted of 10 parent pairs with 20 brooding squabs; group 2 consisted of 10 male parents with 20 brooding squabs; and group 3 consisted of 10 female parents with 20 brooding squabs. In the second experiment, the squabs were also divided into three groups. Group 1 (control) consisted of 10 parent pairs with 20 brooding squabs; group 2 consisted of 20 brooding squabs fostered by 10 foster parent pigeons (either male or female); and group 3 consisted of 20 brooding squabs fostered by the hand-rearing method. A significant improvement in growth performance, behavioral welfare (head waggle, squab note and squab wing shake); increased repetition of these behaviors indicates stress and discomfort), and survival rate was observed to be higher in the group brooded by both parents compared to the group brooded by either a male or a female parent. In addition, the group fostered by hand-rearing showed a significant improvement in growth performance, behavioral welfare, and survival rate compared to the group brooded by foster pigeon parents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Environment and Stressors on Animal Welfare)
Open AccessArticle
Effect of Lignocaine and a Topical Vapocoolant Spray on Pain Response during Surgical Castration of Beef Calves
Animals 2019, 9(4), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9040126 - 28 Mar 2019
Abstract
This study assessed the efficacy of pre-operative injected lignocaine and peri-operative topical vapocoolant spray, administered as most practical for incorporation into routine calf castration procedures. Calves were randomly allocated to: (1) sham castration (SHAM); (2) surgical castration (CAST); (3) surgical castration with lignocaine [...] Read more.
This study assessed the efficacy of pre-operative injected lignocaine and peri-operative topical vapocoolant spray, administered as most practical for incorporation into routine calf castration procedures. Calves were randomly allocated to: (1) sham castration (SHAM); (2) surgical castration (CAST); (3) surgical castration with lignocaine (LIG); and (4) surgical castration with vapocoolant spray (VAPO). Calf behavioural responses were scored at different stages of the sham castration or castration procedure. Maximum ocular temperatures were measured at three time-points relative to restraint and treatment. There were significant effects of treatment (p < 0.001) and stage of procedure (p < 0.001) on calf behavioural response. SHAM calves were more likely to display less severe responses compared to all other calves and LIG calves were more likely to display less severe responses compared to VAPO calves. Calves were more likely to display more severe responses to extrusion of the first spermatic cord compared to all other stages of castration, and to extrusion of the second spermatic cord compared to severing of the second spermatic cord. There was a significant effect of time (p < 0.001) on ocular temperature, with ocular temperature being greater following sham castration or castration. In this study, there was no evidence of pain reduction during castration of calves by either lignocaine or vapocoolant spray. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Environment and Stressors on Animal Welfare)
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Open AccessArticle
Pregnancy-Associated Alterations of Peripheral Blood Immune Cell Numbers in Domestic Sows Are Modified by Social Rank
Animals 2019, 9(3), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9030112 - 23 Mar 2019
Abstract
During pregnancy, the maternal immune system is characterized by a shift from adaptive to innate immune functions. Besides, the immune system can be influenced by social rank. Detailed knowledge of pregnancy-associated immune changes and of the interplay of rank-associated and gestation-induced immunomodulations is [...] Read more.
During pregnancy, the maternal immune system is characterized by a shift from adaptive to innate immune functions. Besides, the immune system can be influenced by social rank. Detailed knowledge of pregnancy-associated immune changes and of the interplay of rank-associated and gestation-induced immunomodulations is still fragmentary in sows. This study investigates both the numbers of various blood leukocyte subpopulations during pregnancy and the influence of social rank position on progressing pregnancy-associated alterations in group-housed sows. Sows were classified as low (LR), middle (MR), or high-ranking (HR). Five blood samples were collected from each of the 35 sows throughout pregnancy to evaluate the distribution of blood lymphocyte subpopulations and plasma cortisol concentrations. The numbers of T, natural killer (NK), and B cells, cytotoxic T cells (CTL), and CD8+ γδ- T cells decreased during the last trimester of pregnancy, while neutrophils and plasma cortisol concentration increased before parturition. Social rank revealed different effects on B cells and monocytes with MR sows showing higher numbers than LR sows. Plasma cortisol concentrations also tended to be higher in MR sows as compared to LR sows. In conclusion, sows show pregnancy-associated alterations in the immune system, which are influenced by social rank, as middle-ranking sows in particular display signs of stress-induced immunomodulations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Environment and Stressors on Animal Welfare)
Open AccessArticle
Stocking Density Affects Stress and Anxious Behavior in the Laying Hen Chick During Rearing
Animals 2019, 9(2), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9020053 - 10 Feb 2019
Abstract
The recent increases in stocking density, in extreme cases resulting in ‘crowding’, have a major impact on poultry welfare. In contrast to available research on adult laying hens, there is a gap in the literature studying the rearing phase. The present study investigated [...] Read more.
The recent increases in stocking density, in extreme cases resulting in ‘crowding’, have a major impact on poultry welfare. In contrast to available research on adult laying hens, there is a gap in the literature studying the rearing phase. The present study investigated the effects of stocking density during the rearing period on the welfare of the laying hen chick. The chicks were housed under one of three crowding conditions, increasing with age: undercrowding (500-1000-1429 cm2 per chick), conventional crowding (167-333-500 cm2 per chick), or overcrowding (56-111-167 cm2 per chick). The parameters evaluated encompassed behavioral and physiological factors related to anxiety and stress. We found that during the first 6 weeks, overcrowded chicks displayed more anxious behavior than undercrowded chicks, and both extreme densities induced higher corticosterone levels compared to chicks housed under conventional crowding. At 10 weeks of age, plasma corticosterone had dropped to the level of conventional crowding group in both groups, whereas feather corticosterone remained high only in the overcrowded group. We conclude that current conventional stocking densities do not seem to impair the welfare state of the laying hen chick, and that a three-fold increase or decrease of density influences corticosterone levels and anxious behavior, but within the adaptive capacity of the chick. Important side notes to this conclusion are that an increase of stocking density did result in a slower rate of adaptation, and that there could be long-term consequences of both the different stocking densities and/or increased costs of adaptation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Environment and Stressors on Animal Welfare)
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Virtual Fencing Stimuli on Stress Responses and Behavior in Sheep
Animals 2019, 9(1), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9010030 - 21 Jan 2019
Abstract
To understand the animal welfare impact of virtual fencing stimuli (audio cue ‘beep’ and electrical stimulus) on naïve sheep, it is necessary to assess stress responses during the animal’s first encounters with these stimuli. Eighty Merino ewes were exposed to one of the [...] Read more.
To understand the animal welfare impact of virtual fencing stimuli (audio cue ‘beep’ and electrical stimulus) on naïve sheep, it is necessary to assess stress responses during the animal’s first encounters with these stimuli. Eighty Merino ewes were exposed to one of the following treatments (n = 16 animals per treatment): Control (no stimuli), beep, dog bark, manual restraint, and electrical stimulus. Collars were used to apply the audio and electrical stimuli. The restraint treatment showed an elevated cortisol response compared with the control (p < 0.05), but there were no differences between the other treatments and the control. There were no differences between treatments in vaginal temperature (p > 0.05). For behaviors, the sheep receiving the bark and beep treatments were more vigilant compared to the control (p < 0.05), there were more aversive responses observed in the electrical stimulus treatment compared to the control. Together, the responses showed that the beep stimuli were largely benign, the bark stimuli was minimally aversive, the electrical stimuli was acutely aversive, and the restraint was moderately aversive. These data suggest that, for sheep, their first exposure to the virtual fencing stimuli should be perceived as less aversive than a commonly used restraint procedure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Environment and Stressors on Animal Welfare)
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Open AccessArticle
Feeding Strategies Before and at Mixing: The Effect on Sow Aggression and Behavior
Animals 2019, 9(1), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9010023 - 11 Jan 2019
Abstract
Hierarchy formation in domestic sows results in aggression and stress, which might be ameliorated through nutritional satiety. The effect on aggression in group housed, gestating sows provided a standard or high volume of a “standard” diet, or diet enhanced with lignocellulose before, at, [...] Read more.
Hierarchy formation in domestic sows results in aggression and stress, which might be ameliorated through nutritional satiety. The effect on aggression in group housed, gestating sows provided a standard or high volume of a “standard” diet, or diet enhanced with lignocellulose before, at, and after mixing was studied. Ninety-six Large White cross Landrace weaned sows were allocated to: control diet (CON), high volume diet (HI), and lignocellulose-enhanced diet before and at mixing (LC), and after mixing (LCM) (24 sows per treatment). Sows were housed in stalls for 10 days before mixing, when the CON, HI, and LCM groups were fed a standard diet, and in the LC group, a diet enhanced with lignocellulose at 2.5% was given. At mixing, the CON group continued on a standard diet at 2.5 kg/sow per day, HI were fed the standard diet at 4 kg/sow per day for the first four days and 2.5 kg/sow per day thereafter, and LC and LCM were fed the lignocellulose-enhanced diet at 2.5 kg/sow per day. Behavior, salivary cortisol concentrations, lesion number, and condition were recorded on M0, M1, M6, and M14. Reproduction was assessed using pregnancy rate and progesterone measurements. There were several treatment effects on aggression in the sows following mixing. There were significantly lower fight numbers (CON = 0.34 ± 0.03 Log (1 + x) transformed mean and SEM (1.49 untransformed adjusted mean), LC = 0.31 ± 0.04 (1.14), LCM = 0.42 ± 0.04 (0.28), HI = 0.35 ± 0.04 (1.64); p = 0.001) and longer individual fight durations in the LCM group compared to the CON and LC group (CON = 0.88 s ± 0.07 Log transformed mean and SEM (10.31 s, untransformed adjusted mean), LC = 0.89 ± 0.09 (13.51), LCM = 1.16 ± 0.07 (21.43), HI = 01.03 ± 0.07 (16.42); p = 0.04), and overall higher injury numbers in the LC and LCM groups than the HI. Time spent eating was significantly lower in the CON group than both HI and LC (CON = 7.79 ± 0.37, LC = 8.91 ± 0.38, LCM = 8.49 ± 0.42, HI = 9.55 ± 0.39; p = 0.007). The time spent drinking was also affected by treatment, with more time spent drinking in CON than LC (p = 0.024). The condition score of the sows was affected by diet, with higher condition scores in the HI group than LCM and LC (CON = 2.98 ± 0.11, LC = 2.75 ± 0.10, LCM = 2.74 ± 0.10, HI = 3.12 ± 0.10; p = 0.017). These results suggest that feeding a diet containing 2.5% lignocellulose and a standard diet at a high feeding level for four days post-mixing may affect overall aggression and possibly satiety levels. Our data found decreased fight numbers and increased fight duration in the LCM compared to the LC treatment, and therefore, feeding the fiber source before mixing affects aggression levels differently than when fed just after mixing. A further understanding of different fiber sources and how their physiochemical properties affect digestion and sow satiety would enable critical evaluation and use of fiber sources for benefits in reducing aggression at mixing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Environment and Stressors on Animal Welfare)
Open AccessArticle
Provision Point-Source Materials Stimulates Play in Sows but Does Not Affect Aggression at Regrouping
Animals 2019, 9(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9010008 - 22 Dec 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
When sows are mixed into groups, hierarchies form and resulting aggression and stress can affect production and welfare. This study determined the effect of providing point-source materials on aggressive and play behaviors in gestating sows. Large white cross Landrace sows were mixed after [...] Read more.
When sows are mixed into groups, hierarchies form and resulting aggression and stress can affect production and welfare. This study determined the effect of providing point-source materials on aggressive and play behaviors in gestating sows. Large white cross Landrace sows were mixed after insemination; six pens of 12 sows were housed in ‘standard’ pens, and six pens of 12 sows were housed in ‘enhanced’ pens. The ‘enhanced’ pens each contained two rubber mats, eight strands of 24 mm-thick sisal rope and two yellow plastic disks, suspended from the roof. The sows remained in these pens until pregnancy confirmation. Salivary cortisol concentration, injury counts, and sow behaviors were recorded the day before mixing (day 1), mixing (day 0) and post-mixing day 1, day 4, day 7 and day 20. At farrowing, reproductive outcomes were obtained. Play was observed (including locomotor and object play) in the ‘enhanced’ pen, and percentage of time spent playing was greater on d4 (1.48 ± 0.3 Square root transformed data (2.84% non-transformed adjusted mean)), d7 (1.43 ± 0.3 (2.97%)) and d20 (1.64 ± 0.3 (3.84%)), compared to d0 (0.56 ± 0.3 (0.70%)) and d1 (0.87 ± 0.3 (1.67%) (p < 0.05)). No play was observed in standard housing. Aggression, salivary free cortisol concentrations and injuries were unaffected (p > 0.05). The provision of materials had no impact on aggression, although their presence maintained sow interest and play behavior, suggesting a positive effect. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Environment and Stressors on Animal Welfare)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
The Impact of Heat Load on Cattle
Animals 2019, 9(6), 322; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060322 - 06 Jun 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Heat stress and cold stress have a negative influence on cattle welfare and productivity. There have been some studies investigating the influence of cold stress on cattle, however the emphasis within this review is the influence of heat stress on cattle. The impact [...] Read more.
Heat stress and cold stress have a negative influence on cattle welfare and productivity. There have been some studies investigating the influence of cold stress on cattle, however the emphasis within this review is the influence of heat stress on cattle. The impact of hot weather on cattle is of increasing importance due to the changing global environment. Heat stress is a worldwide phenomenon that is associated with reduced animal productivity and welfare, particularly during the summer months. Animal responses to their thermal environment are extremely varied, however, it is clear that the thermal environment influences the health, productivity, and welfare of cattle. Whilst knowledge continues to be developed, managing livestock to reduce the negative impact of hot climatic conditions remains somewhat challenging. This review provides an overview of the impact of heat stress on production and reproduction in bovines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Environment and Stressors on Animal Welfare)
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Open AccessReview
Effects of Separation of Cows and Calves on Reproductive Performance and Animal Welfare in Tropical Beef Cattle
Animals 2019, 9(5), 223; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050223 - 08 May 2019
Abstract
Nursing a calf suppresses postpartum ovarian activity prolonging the period of anestrus. Diverse methods are used to reduce the effect of suckling; the most popular, restricted suckling, reduces the number of encounters mother-calf. Temporal weaning of the calf for periods of 24 h, [...] Read more.
Nursing a calf suppresses postpartum ovarian activity prolonging the period of anestrus. Diverse methods are used to reduce the effect of suckling; the most popular, restricted suckling, reduces the number of encounters mother-calf. Temporal weaning of the calf for periods of 24 h, 48 h, or even 72 h also suppress the effect of suckling and is commonly applied to cow-calf operations in the tropics. Early weaning of the calf, usually three to five months after birth, is a practice gaining popularity over the traditional system of weaning at seven months. Furthermore, the use of nose-flaps in the calf to avoid suckling is a common procedure in South America. Finally, weaning during the first week after calving is an established method to reduce postpartum anestrus. The objective of the present review is to discuss the effects of these methods on the reproductive performance of beef cattle and their animal welfare implications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Environment and Stressors on Animal Welfare)
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