Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs

Ettenhausen, Germany

Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs

Ettenhausen, Germany
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Fuhrer N.,Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs | Fuhrer N.,University of Zürich | Gygax L.,Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs | Gygax L.,Humboldt University of Berlin
Behavioural Processes | Year: 2017

Time estimation helps allocating time to different tasks and to plan behavioural sequences. It may also be relevant to animal welfare if it enables animals assessing the duration of a negative situation. Here, we investigated the ability of dry sows to estimate short and long time periods. We used a variant of the peak-interval procedure and the choice between 2 resources of different quality and replenishment rates to assess time periods in the order of minutes and days, respectively. In the minute-experiment, the sows were trained to expect an interruption while feeding at the end of an interval. Heart rate and heart rate variability slightly and continuously increased and decreased, respectively, towards the end of that interval. In the day-experiment, lasting about 60 days, the sows were increasingly more likely to open the door to a high food reward on the correct day when this food reward was presented every fifth day. We conclude that the sows learnt to estimate time intervals of 5 days after lengthy training but did not accurately learn intervals in the range of minutes. Therefore, they might re-visit replenishing resources after several days, but may not base short-term decisions solely on the passing of time. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.

Anderwald P.,Sea Watch Foundation | Anderwald P.,Durham University | Anderwald P.,University College Cork | Evans P.G.H.,Sea Watch Foundation | And 2 more authors.
Marine Ecology Progress Series | Year: 2011

Mixed-species foraging groups are well known for a broad range of taxonomic groups. Explanations have focused around 2 primary mechanisms: Anti-predator behaviour and maximising foraging efficiency. In the ocean, feeding assemblages can involve seabirds, fish, cetaceans, pinnipeds and combinations of these groups. Here we examine association patterns between North Atlantic minke whales and seabirds. Based on the unique feeding strategies of different seabird guilds, predictions were made on the relationship between seabirds and whales in joint feeding assemblages (who profits from whom). These predictions were tested by modelling the presence of a whale with seabird aggregations using logistic regressions, involving presence/absence of seabird guilds, group sizes and measures of diversity as explanatory variables. A strong positive relationship was found between the presence of a whale with a seabird aggregation and the presence and group size of auks, the only seabird group able to concentrate fish on their own. No other seabird guild was relevant in predicting the presence of a whale. This suggests that 'beater' or 'pirate' theory best explains the relationship, with minke whales taking advantage of prey concentrations generated by the feeding behaviour of auks, and other bird groups taking advantage of dead, stunned or scattered prey left by the whales. © Inter-Research 2011.

Zwicker B.,Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs | Gygax L.,Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs | Wechsler B.,Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs | Weber R.,ART Agroscope Reckenholz Tänikon
Livestock Science | Year: 2012

To safeguard the welfare of finishing pigs, known for their strong motivation to explore, provision of an adequate quantity of enrichment material is important. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of the accessibility of straw provided in racks on exploratory behaviour in pigs. Two hundred and sixteen finishing pigs with undocked tails were housed in eight groups of 27 pigs each for 12 weeks. They were kept in pens with a partly slatted floor and access to an outdoor area and were fed with liquid feed twice daily. To vary accessibility of enrichment material the number of filled straw racks (one, three, six or eight) provided in a pen was changed in each group every 21 days using a cross-over Latin square design. Video recordings were made for 16.5. h on the 2nd and 18th day after changing the number of filled racks. The number of pigs showing exploratory behaviour towards the racks ("exploring filled rack") as well as towards straw which dropped from the racks onto the lying area ("exploring straw on the floor") was recorded by 10. min scan sampling. Displacements from the racks were recorded continuously. Data were analysed using linear mixed-effects models. Exploratory behaviour followed a daily biperiodical pattern with the highest levels recorded 3. h after morning feeding (7:00-10:00. h) and about 2. h before and after feeding in the afternoon (14:30-19:00. h). The proportion of pigs per scan exploring filled racks (p<0.001) as well as exploring straw on the floor (p<0.007) increased monotonically as the number of filled racks increased. The rate of displacements from the rack tended to decrease monotonically with an increasing number of racks (p=0.083). It seems that provision of more enrichment material increasingly stimulates the exploratory behaviour of finishing pigs at least up to 19. cm rack space per pig. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

Haufe H.C.,Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs | Gygax L.,Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs | Wechsler B.,Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs | Stauffacher M.,ETH Zurich | Friedli K.,Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs
Preventive Veterinary Medicine | Year: 2012

In this study, the effects on the claw health of dairy cows of three different floor types and access to pasture were investigated on 35 farms. The farms were fitted with a given floor type in the indoor walking area of a cubicle housing system: a solid rubber, mastic asphalt or slatted concrete floor. Because we chose farms on which the given floor type was in good condition, the data presented show what can be achieved on these types of floors under ideal circumstances. Cows on half of the farms per floor type had access to pasture during the grazing period. Each farm was visited three times at approx. 6-month intervals at the end of the winter indoor-housing period and at the end of the summer period, i.e. after the period with access to pasture on half of the farms. During each visit, the claw health of the same 10 cows per farm was assessed on the occasion of routine claw trimming. The proportion of cows with haemorrhages increased from mastic asphalt to rubber and slatted concrete floors. A lower proportion of cows kept on mastic asphalt was affected by white-line fissures and needed intermittent claw-trimming, an indicator for lameness. Cows housed in cubicle systems with slatted concrete floors were at the lowest risk of having heel-horn erosions. Access to pasture was associated with a lower incidence of slight white-line fissures and dermatitis digitalis. A higher proportion of cows with sole haemorrhages and sole ulcers were found on all floor types at the end of the summer period than at the end of the winter indoor-housing period. Floor type did not influence the presence of sole ulcers and deep white-line fissures. In conclusion, the effect of floor type on claw health was slight, and none of the investigated floor types was clearly superior to the others. Access to pasture was not effective in reducing the presence of most types of claw lesions associated with the floor type used in the indoor walking area. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

Keil N.M.,Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs | Imfeld-Mueller S.,ETH Zurich | Aschwanden J.,Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs | Wechsler B.,Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs
Animal Cognition | Year: 2012

In this study, we investigated whether goats can distinguish a member of their own group from one belonging to a different group even when the head of the goat in question cannot be seen. In the experiment, a total of 45 adult female goats (walkers) were trained to walk along a passageway at the end of which they learnt to expect food (trial run). Walking down this corridor, they passed another adult female goat (stimulus goat) whose trunk and hind legs alone were visible. Using 19 individuals, ten pairs of stimulus goats consisting of one goat from the walker's group and one from a different group were matched in terms of body size, constitution, colour and coat length. In addition, the stimulus goat from the same group as the walker had to be higher ranking than the latter to avoid being attacked. The walkers completed two, four or six trial runs depending on the number of pairs suitable for a given walker. The walker's exploratory behaviour (observing and sniffing at the stimulus goat) was recorded. Data from 109 trial runs were analysed using generalised linear mixed-effects models with crossed random effects. On average, the walker spent a total of 8.7 s exploring the stimulus goat visually and olfactorily if the latter was from a different group and only about half as long (4.2 s) if it was from her own group. In particular, the time a walker spent observing a stimulus goat whilst approaching the latter was significantly longer if the stimulus goat belonged to a different group than to her own (2.5 s as opposed to 1.4 s). Moreover, a stimulus goat from a different group was sniffed at significantly longer (4.6 s) than one from the same group (1.9 s). Results suggest that goats can easily discriminate between members of their own group and those of a different group even when the latter's heads are hidden. Olfactory and visual cues are probably important for identifying group members. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.

Johns J.,ETH Zurich | Patt A.,ETH Zurich | Patt A.,Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs | Hillmann E.,ETH Zurich
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2015

In alpine regions, bells are used to relocate free-ranging grazers like cows and goats. Considering that goats have a well-developed hearing capacity, sounds (e.g. a chime of a bell) may act as stressors depending on their characteristics. The aim of this study was to test whether a non-uniform sound (chime of a bell) varying in amplitude and frequency and a uniform sound (sinusoidal tone) with continuously increasing amplitude and constant frequency lead to stress responses in terms of behaviour and heartbeat. Twenty-nine goats were tested individually in a test arena in two sessions, each lasting five consecutive days with one trial per day. A day before the first trial, reference values were collected without playback. During the following five trials, playbacks were conducted. Differences in behaviour and heartbeat parameters between test and reference values were analysed by using generalised linear mixed-effects models. During the first trial, the relative feeding duration was decreased and the relative alertness duration was increased during both stimuli, but more when goats were exposed to the non-uniform than the uniform sound. For both stimuli, the relative feeding duration increased (trial. ×. stimulus: P=. 0.05) and the relative alertness duration decreased (trial. ×. stimulus: P=. 0.004) from the first to the fifth trial but returned to the levels of the reference values sooner when goats were exposed to the uniform than the non-uniform sound. Cardiac activity was not affected by the stimuli. Altogether, the chime of a bell led to higher behavioural arousal than the uniform sinusoidal tone, indicating a potential of the chime to being more aversive to goats than a uniform sound. With repeated exposure to the stimuli, goats habituated to both stimuli, but habituation was faster to the sinusoidal sound than to the chime of a bell. Free-ranging goats in alpine regions usually are equipped with bells 24. h a day during the summer season. Thus, the question arises whether the long-term exposure to the chime of a bell might have negative effects on animal welfare. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

Schrade S.,Agroscope Reckenholz Taenikon Research Station ART | Zeyer K.,Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology | Gygax L.,Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs | Emmenegger L.,Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology | And 2 more authors.
Atmospheric Environment | Year: 2012

From an agricultural and environmental policy perspective there is a pressing need for up-to-date emission data on ammonia (NH 3) from dairy farming. The main aim of this study was to determine NH 3 emissions for the most common dairy farming situation in Switzerland of loose housing with an outdoor exercise area. Measurements were taken on six commercial farms, in naturally ventilated cubicle loose housing systems with solid floors and an outdoor exercise area located alongside the housing. The variation in climate over the course of a year was covered by a total of twelve measuring periods, in two out of three seasons (summer, transition period, winter) per farm. A tracer ratio method with two tracer gases (SF 6, SF 5CF 3) was employed to determine emissions from two areas of different source intensity. A variety of accompanying parameters was used to characterise each measuring situation and to derive the relevant influencing variables. The daily average NH 3 emission across all farms varied from 31 to 67-g LU -1-d -1 in summer, from 16 to 44-g LU -1-d -1 in the transition period, and from 6 to 23-g LU -1-d -1 in winter (1 LU-=-500-kg live weight). From a linear mixed-effects model the wind speed in the housing (p-<-0.001) and the interaction of outside temperature and the urea content of the tank milk (p-<-0.001) emerged as significant variables influencing NH 3 emission. A model-based calculation with bootstrapped variance components was used to calculate yearly averaged emission factors for two mountain and plain regions and two wind speeds (0.3 and 0.5-m-s -1). The model input was based on milk urea contents from commercial dairy farms and air temperatures over a five-year period. The calculated NH 3 emission factors, which thus accounted for regional differences due to climatic conditions and feeding levels, ranged between 22 and 25-g LU -1-d -1. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Zwicker B.,Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs | Gygax L.,Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs | Wechsler B.,Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs | Weber R.,ART Agroscope Reckenholz Tänikon
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2013

In a semi-natural environment, a lot of the daily activity of pigs is spent in exploratory and foraging behaviour. Providing enrichment material attractive to the pigs both over the short and long term is therefore important in intensive housing systems. This study aimed to investigate the effect of four types of point-source enrichment materials and four types of litter on the behaviour of finishing pigs. In experiment 1, pigs were offered cut straw or cut straw enriched with maize kernels as litter on the lying area, as well as a cylindrical dispenser filled with a compressed straw block or a straw rack filled with cut straw. In experiment 2, chopped straw or chopped Miscanthus giganteus was provided as litter on the lying area, along with a straw-pellet dispenser or bark compost in a trough. In both experiments, 96 finishing pigs with undocked tails were housed in groups of six pigs in pens with partly-slatted floors. Half of the groups were fed restrictively, the other half ad libitum. Every three weeks, the enrichment materials were replaced. Exploratory behaviour directed towards the enrichment material, the pen equipment and pen mates was videorecorded and analysed by means of one-minute focal-scan sampling on the second and eighteenth day after provision of a new enrichment material. Data were analysed using linear mixed-effect models. In both experiments, the frequency with which the enrichment material was explored was influenced by the interaction of type of material and day (p< 0.001). On the second day after provision of enrichment, the favoured material was cut straw enriched with maize kernels in experiment 1, and the straw-pellet dispenser in experiment 2. On day 18, straw as litter with or without maize, the straw rack, chopped straw, chopped Miscanthus giganteus and the pellet dispenser were used with a similar, and still relatively high, frequency. The least-explored materials were the straw block and bark compost. In both experiments, pigs fed ad libitum explored the materials less than half as frequently as those fed restrictively (p< 0.001). Manipulation of the pen showed a pattern inverse to that of manipulation of the material, but a similar pattern with respect to feeding regime. Materials had no discernible influence on the manipulation of pen mates. In conclusion, our results indicate that both the point-source enrichment and the litter materials provided constituted adequate enrichment for small groups of finishing pigs. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

PubMed | Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs and University of Maryland College Park
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of dairy science | Year: 2016

Confined goats spend a substantial part of the day feeding. A poorly designed feeding place increases the risk of feeding in nonphysiological body postures, and even injury. Scientifically validated information on suitable dimensions of feeding places for loose-housed goats is almost absent from the literature. The aim of the present study was, therefore, to determine feeding place dimensions that would allow goats to feed in a species-appropriate, relaxed body posture. A total of 27 goats with a height at the withers of 62 to 80 cm were included in the study. Goats were tested individually in an experimental feeding stall that allowed the height difference between the feed table, the standing area of the forelegs, and a feeding area step (difference in height between forelegs and hind legs) to be varied. The goats accessed the feed table via a palisade feeding barrier. The feed table was equipped with recesses at varying distances to the feeding barrier (5-55 cm in 5-cm steps) at angles of 30, 60, 90, 120, or 150 (feeding angle), which were filled with the goats preferred food. In 18 trials, balanced for order across animals, each animal underwent all possible combinations of feeding area step (3 levels: 0, 10, and 20 cm) and of difference in height between feed table and standing area of forelegs (6 levels: 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 cm). The minimum and maximum reach at which the animals could reach feed on the table with a relaxed body posture was determined for each combination. Statistical analysis was performed using mixed-effects models. The animals were able to feed with a relaxed posture when the feed table was at least 10 cm higher than the standing height of the goats forelegs. Larger goats achieved smaller minimum reaches and minimum reach increased if the goats head and neck were angled. Maximum reach increased with increasing height at withers and height of the feed table. The presence of a feeding area step had no influence on minimum and maximum reach. Based on these results, the goats feeding place can be designed to ensure that the animals are able to reach all of the feed in the manger or on the feed table with a relaxed posture, thus avoiding injuries and nonphysiological stress on joints and hooves. A feeding area step up to a maximum of 20 cm need not be taken into account in terms of feeding reach. However, the feed table must be raised at least 10 cm above the standing area to allow the goats to feed in a species-appropriate, relaxed posture.

PubMed | Center for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Schweizer Archiv fur Tierheilkunde | Year: 2016

In barns with an automatic milking system (AMS), both the milking frequency and the number of nighttime milkings vary between cows. A low milking frequency might indicate problems in gaining access to the milking unit. Also, nighttime lighting in the waiting area of the AMS and in the milking unit increases exposure to light at night and could suppress nocturnal melatonin synthesis. These effects could result in increased stress, suppressed immune response, and poor udder health. A total of 125 cows (14-16/farm) on 8 farms with AMS were selected based on their average milking frequency. Eight to 10 saliva samples per cow were taken over the course of 4 days, and cortisol, IgA and melatonin concentrations were determined. Somatic cell counts (SCC) were determined in milk samples. Milking frequency had no significant relationship with mean cortisol and IgA levels, but a higher milking frequency tended to be associated with lower SCC levels. Nocturnal melatonin levels tended to be negatively associated with the number of nighttime milkings. In conclusion, no indication of increased stress or reduced immune defense was found in relation to milking frequency on farms with an AMS.

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