Special Issue "Processing of environmental stimuli and farm animal welfare"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2021) | Viewed by 4828

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Lisette M.C. Leliveld
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milan, Italy
Interests: emotions; behavioural lateralization; acoustic communication; farm animal welfare; pigs; cattle; automatic welfare assessment
Dr. Sandra Düpjan
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Behavioural Physiology, Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology, Wilhelm-Stahl-Allee 2, 18196 Dummerstorf, Germany
Interests: farm animal welfare; emotions; bioacoustics; behavioural welfare indicators

Special Issue Information

Although farm animals live in very different environments compared to their natural ancestors, their living conditions are no less diverse or complex, with humans acting both as predators and caretakers, a variety of social challenges (from isolation to regrouping and overcrowding) and regular confrontation with new environments. These environmental stimuli challenge farm animals both cognitively and emotionally. Investigating how farm animals perceive their environment and specifically how they process and evaluate environmental stimuli helps us understand the animal’s point of view. This is an important step towards assessing modern housing environments and the impact they have on farm animal welfare. It can ultimately lead to improvements in farm animal housing and management for better welfare. This Special Issue is therefore dedicated to articles (original research papers or reviews) that increase our knowledge of farm animals’ emotional and cognitive evaluation of environmental stimuli in different farming contexts. We aim to highlight research that clarifies how the influences of animal housing and management on animal welfare are mediated, using established or novel indicators of affective processing of environmental, biotic or abiotic stimuli, e.g., behavioural lateralisation or cognitive bias.

Dr. Lisette M.C. Leliveld
Dr. Sandra Düpjan
Guest Editors

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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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 semimonthly 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 1800 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.


  • emotion
  • cognitive processing
  • animal behaviour
  • farm animal welfare
  • cerebral lateralisation
  • cognitive bias

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Basic Needs in Horses?—A Literature Review
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1798; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061798 - 16 Jun 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 4416
Every animal species has particular environmental requirements that are essential for its welfare, and when these so-called “basic needs” are not fulfilled, the animals suffer. The basic needs of horses have been claimed to be social contact, social companionship, free movement and access [...] Read more.
Every animal species has particular environmental requirements that are essential for its welfare, and when these so-called “basic needs” are not fulfilled, the animals suffer. The basic needs of horses have been claimed to be social contact, social companionship, free movement and access to roughage. To assess whether horses suffer when one or more of the four proposed basic needs are restricted, we examined several studies (n = 38) that reported behavioural and physiological reactions to these restrictions. We assigned the studies according to the four types of responses investigated: (a) Stress, (b) Active, (c) Passive, and (d) Abnormal Behaviour. Furthermore, the number of studies indicating that horses reacted to the restrictions were compared with the number of studies reporting no reaction. The limited number of studies available on single management restrictions did not allow conclusions to be drawn on the effect of each restriction separately, especially in the case of social companionship. However, when combinations of social contact, free movement and access to roughage were restricted, many of the horses had developed responses consistent with suffering. Passive Responses, indicating acute suffering, and Abnormal Behaviour, indicating suffering currently or at some time in the past, were especially clearly demonstrated. This provides further evidence of the usefulness of assessing behavioural parameters in combination with physiological measurements when evaluating horse welfare. This meta-analysis of the literature confirms that it is justified to claim that social contact, free movement and access to roughage are basic needs in horses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Processing of environmental stimuli and farm animal welfare)
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