Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry

Celle, Germany

Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry

Celle, Germany
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Czycholl I.,University of Kiel | Kniese C.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Schrader L.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Krieter J.,University of Kiel
Animal | Year: 2017

Animal welfare has become an important subject of public and political debate, leading to the necessity of an objective evaluation system for on-farm use. As welfare is a multi-dimensional concept, it makes sense to use a multi-criteria aggregation system to obtain an overall welfare score. Such an aggregation system is provided by the Welfare Quality® Network. The present paper focusses on the assessment of the multi-criteria evaluation model included in the Welfare Quality® protocol for growing pigs in order to aggregate the animal-based indicators first to criteria, then to principles and finally to an overall welfare score. Specifically, the importance of the indicators on the overall assessment of growing pig farms is analysed in a given population which consisted of a total of 198 protocol assessments carried out on a sample of 24 farms in Germany. By means of partial least squares modelling, the influence of measures in the calculation procedure is estimated by calculation and interpretation of Variable Importance for Projection (VIP) scores. Variable Importance for Projection scores revealed some meaningful, unexpected influences as the multi-criteria evaluation model of Welfare Quality® aimed at avoiding interferences and double-counting. Some of these influences led to the assumption that some measures might have potential as iceberg indicators, whereas others showed lesser importance. Thus, feasibility can be gained by the deletion and special weighting of indicators according to their importance. Altogether, the study is an essential contribution to the further development of the Welfare Quality® protocols as well as the application of multi-criteria decision systems in the field of animal welfare science in general. © The Animal Consortium 2017


Krause E.T.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Kjaer J.B.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Luders C.,Bielefeld University | van L.P.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry
Behavioural Brain Research | Year: 2017

The neural serotonin (5-HT)/serotonin transporter (5-HTT) system is involved in the regulation of physiological processes and emotional states. In humans, the short (S) allele in the 5-HTT gene-linked polymorphic region, which decreases 5-HTT expression, has been shown to be associated with behavioral changes including an increased level of anxiety. Also in birds a polymorphism in the 5-HTT gene is described, a deletion (D) has been found to have functional consequences on growth and locomotion. Furthermore, the D-allele leads to an increased 5-HTT expression compared to the wild type (W), a feature which is linked to lower levels of fear in mammalian species. Thus, we aimed here to test whether the polymorphism in the chicken 5-HTT gene also leads to respective alternations of fear-related behaviors. We tested 268 hens of three genotypes (W/W, W/D, D/D) in two behavioral paradigms (open field, light–dark test) to assess fear-related behavior. Both tests revealed that hens possessing the D-allele showed lower levels of fear than those having the W-allele. These similar outcomes in fear-related behaviors in an avian and a mammalian species are associated with an increased 5-HTT expression. In the human 5-HTT gene, the long (L) allele is linked to such increased expression, whereas in chickens it is the D-allele. Thus, increased 5-HTT expression causing decreased fear may be a general mechanism in vertebrates. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.


Scholz B.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Kjaer J.B.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Urselmans S.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Urselmans S.,Bavarian State Research Center for Agriculture | Schrader L.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry
Poultry Science | Year: 2011

Within the European Union, the provision of dustbathing material in layer housing systems will be compulsory beginning in 2012. In cage systems, food particles are mainly used as litter material and are provided on scratching mats by an automatic transporting system. However, because dustbathing is a means for hens to remove stale lipids from their plumage, lipid content of a substrate may be an important asset with regard to its adequacy. This study analyzes dustbathing behavior as affected by lipid content of feed used as litter material. A total of 72 laying hens of 2 genotypes (Lohmann Selected Leghorn, Lohmann Brown) were kept in 12 compartments (6 hens each). Compartments were equipped with a plastic grid floor (G) and additionally contained 3 different dustbathing trays (each 1,000 cm 2/hen) holding low-lipid (0.82%; L), normal-lipid (4.2%; N), and high-lipid (15.7%; H) food particles. The experiment began at 20 wk of life, and video recordings were done at wk 23, 26, and 29. Number of dustbaths, time spent dustbathing, average dustbath duration, foraging, and single behaviors within dustbaths were analyzed during the light period over 2 d in each observation week. Dustbaths occurred most frequently in the L compared with the N, H, and G treatments (all P < 0.001). Total time spent dustbathing was longest in the L treatment compared with the N and H treatments (P < 0.001). No difference in the average duration of single dustbaths was found between the L, N, and H treatments. However, when dustbath interruptions (less than 10 min) were excluded, the duration of single dustbaths was longer in the H compared with the L (P = 0.009) and N (P = 0.024) treatments. Foraging was most frequently observed in the N compared with the L, H, and G treatments (all P < 0.001). More body wing shakes occurred in the L compared with the N treatment, and the number of vertical wing shakes was higher in the N compared with the H treatment (all P ≤ 0.05). Our results showed that preference for a dustbathing substrate increased with decreasing lipid content, implying that food particles may not be a suitable dustbathing substrate. © 2011 Poultry Science Association Inc.


Phi van D.K.,Martin Luther University of Halle Wittenberg | Muhlbauer E.,Martin Luther University of Halle Wittenberg | Muhlbauer E.,Saxon Academy of science | Phi-van L.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Gene Regulatory Mechanisms | Year: 2015

Serotonin (5-HT) has been reported to be involved in cancer progression by stimulating angiogenesis and cell growth. In this study, we examined the expression of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) and the role of histone deacetylases (HDACs) in regulating the 5-HTT gene in tumor cells. The 5-HTT gene expression was almost silenced in chicken lymphoma DT40, myelomonocytic tumor HD11 and hepatoma DU249 cells, compared to their physiological counterpart. In contrast, HDAC1 mRNA expression was increased in these cell lines. Indeed, the pan-HDAC inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA) enhanced the 5-HTT mRNA expression in several tumor cell lines including the human cell lines HepG2 and THP-1 and increased the 5-HT uptake in HD11 cells. In addition, treatment with parthenolide, which is capable of depleting HDAC1, and knockdown of HDAC1 using siRNA resulted in increased 5-HTT mRNA expression, confirming the role of HDAC1 in the down-regulation of 5-HTT in the tumor cells. Deletion analysis of the 5-HTT promoter and site-directed mutagenesis revealed that the transcription factor CCAAT/enhancer binding protein beta (C/EBPß), in interacting with the 5-HTT promoter, mediated both the inhibition of the 5-HTT expression by HDAC1 and the activation by CREB-binding protein (CBP). Using a chromatin immunoprecipitation assay, we found increased acetylation of histone H4 associated with the 5-HTT promoter in cells treated with TSA. Our results suggest that the 5-HTT gene is epigenetically downregulated by HDAC1 in several types of cancer. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.


Pickel T.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Pickel T.,University of Munster | Scholz B.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Schrader L.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2010

Resting on perches is an important behaviour for laying hens. However, perches in laying hen husbandry systems are associated with health problems which may result from inadequate perch designs. The aim of this study was to focus on particular behavioural patterns shown by laying hens on different perches during night-time in order to test whether perching behaviour may provide information on the suitability of a particular perch design. A total of 60 Lohmann Selected Leghorn hens were kept in six compartments over two identical trials. Hens were randomly offered nine round perches, which differed in material (wood, steel, rubber cover) and diameter (27, 34, 45 mm) for one week each. Duration of resting, standing, preening and frequencies of balance movements and comfort behaviours shown by individual hens on each perch were recorded throughout one night (10.5 h) on day six of each observation week. Balance movements decreased with increasing perch diameter (P< 0.001) and appeared less on rubber perches compared to wood and steel (P< 0.05). On steel perches, hens rested longer with their heads tucked backwards into their feathers (P< 0.001) and less with their heads forward with neck pulled back compared to wood and rubber perches (P< 0.001) irrespective of perch diameter. Standing was shown less often on steel compared to wood or rubber perches (P< 0.001). Our data provide evidence that a detailed analysis of hens' perching behaviour can give important information on the suitability of a perch design related to diameter and material. In this context, balance movements may be the most sensitive indicator of the suitability of a perch design with respect to stable footing on perch, whereas resting position and standing on perches are likely to be related to thermoregulatory adjustment in behaviour. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.


Brendler C.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Schrader L.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2016

Perching preference in laying hens is well analysed in several experimental studies. However, information about perch use on farm is scarce. The present study highlights perching preferences at daytime and night-time in 19 laying hen flocks on 18 farms with symmetric (n = 9) and asymmetric (n = 10) aviary systems. Perch use was higher during night than daytime and perches on high tiers were preferred compared to perches on low tiers. Within the low tier hens preferred the higher perches compared to lowest perches. These findings indicate that in order to fulfil the behavioural priorities of laying hens for perching not only the perch length but also the height of perches within the house should be considered. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.


Pickel T.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Pickel T.,University of Munster | Schrader L.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Scholz B.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry
Poultry Science | Year: 2011

The provision of perches in housing systems for laying hens is meant to improve hens' welfare by allowing a more natural behavior repertoire. However, the use of perches is associated with welfare problems, such as keel bone deviations and foot pad lesions, that may possibly result from high mechanical pressure load during extended perching activities. The aim of this study was to analyze peak force and contact area of hens' keel bones and foot pads on solid test perches of square, round, and oval shape with 3 different diameters each (experiment 1) and on commercially used perches (round steel tube, 2 sizes of mushroom-shaped plastic, and flattened round plastic) together with 2 prototypes of soft, round polyurethane perches (experiment 2). Test perches were covered with a pressure sensor film and 36 laying hens (18 Lohmann Selected Leghorn, 18 Lohmann Brown) were consecutively placed on each perch in an experimental cage during nighttime. Peak force (N/cm 2) and contact area (cm 2) were measured while hens were sitting and standing on the different test perches. Pressure peaks on the keel bone were approximately 5 times higher compared with single foot pad. On square perches, keel bone peak force was lower (P < 0.05) and contact area was larger (P < 0.001) compared with round and oval perches. In addition, peak force on foot pads in standing hens was higher on square perches (P < 0.05) compared with oval perches. Perch size did not affect peak forces on keel bones in sitting hens and foot pads in standing hens (experiment 1). On prototype perches, peak force on the keel bone was lower and contact area was larger compared with all commercial perches tested (P < 0.001). Peak force on foot pads was lower on prototype perches compared with steel perches (P < 0.01; experiment 2). Perches with a soft surface may possibly reduce keel bone and foot pad welfare problems in perching laying hens. © 2011 Poultry Science Association Inc.


Scholz B.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Kjaer J.B.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Petow S.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Schrader L.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry
Poultry Science | Year: 2014

Within the European Union, dustbathing material in cage-housing systems for laying hens became compulsory in 2012. In practice, most producers use food particles as litter substrate. The feed is dropped in small amounts on scratching mats by an automatic transporting system. However, because dustbathing behavior is meant to remove stale lipids from hens' plumage, food particles may not be a suitable substrate due to their fat content. This study analyzes feather lipid concentration (FLC) of laying hens with access to food particles (F) or lignocellulose (L) as litter substrates. In each of 2 identical trials, 84 laying hens of 2 genotypes (Lohmann Selected Leghorn, Lohmann Brown) were kept in 12 compartments (7 hens each). Compartments were equipped with a grid floor and additionally contained a closed dustbathing tray holding F or L. Feather samples (150 feathers) were taken 2 times throughout the experiment. At 23 wk of age, 4 hens per compartment were sampled after they were allowed pair-wise access to a dustbath for 2.5 h and 3 hens were sampled without access to a dustbathing tray (control). After 10 wk of free access to the dustbathing trays, all hens were sampled again. In trial 2, an additional third sampling was made after dustbaths had been closed again for 6 wk. Here, 6 hens per compartment were sampled immediately before and after a dustbath. Dustbathing in F resulted in higher FLC compared with L and control (P < 0.001), whereas no significant difference was found between L and control (P = 0.103). When open access to litter was provided, hens had higher FLC in F compared with L (P < 0.001). The FLC immediately after dustbathing in F was higher compared with the level before dustbathing (P < 0.001), whereas it was lower after dustbathing in L (P = 0.006). These results show that F are not suitable litter material for laying hens because they lead to lipid accumulation on the plumage. © 2014 Poultry Science Association Inc.


Pickel T.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Pickel T.,University of Munster | Scholz B.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Schrader L.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2011

Laying hens usually select an elevated position for resting at night-time. A previous study showed that the position a hen takes during resting was affected by perch material, most probably due to its thermal conductivity. The aim of the present study was to analyse the effect of perch surface temperature on resting behaviour and resting comfort in laying hens. In each of two identical trials, three groups of five Lohmann Selected Leghorn hens were housed in each of three compartments in turn (n= 30 birds in six groups). Compartments were equally equipped with one smooth, round galvanised steel perch of 34 mm external diameter. The surface temperatures of perches were controlled by passing water through them, giving temperatures of 15. °C, 18. °C (room temperature) and 28. °C respectively in the three compartments. Hen behaviour was observed at night-time by investigating the proportion of active behavioural patterns and resting (standing or sitting), either with 'head forward motionless and neck withdrawn' or 'head tucked backwards into feathers above wing base or behind a wing.' The number of hens perching and the time spent perching were unaffected by perch temperature. Hens' resting postures, however, were strongly influenced. On the warmest perch, hens rested more with their head forward in a standing position and showed more active behavioural patterns compared to both cooler perches (P<. 0.001). On the cooler perches, hens rested more with their head covered by feathers in a sitting and standing position (P<. 0.05). Our data show that perch temperature strongly affects laying hens' resting behaviour. In this context, hens are confronted with arising trade-offs between thermoregulatory adjustment of behaviour, optimisation of energy budget, restful roosting and vigilance behaviour. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.


Domestic chickens from lines selected for low (LFP) or high (HFP) levels of feather pecking (FP) were reared in 14 bird groups and pecking to various forms presented on a computer screen was recorded at 2 weeks of age. HFP chickens delivered significantly more pecks (combined for all forms: circle, ellipse, rod, rods in feather like pattern and feather in colours: red, yellow, green) than LPF chickens, whereas no significant effects were found for form, colour, hatch or interactions. Total FP (sum of gentle and severe FP) was significantly higher in HFP chickens and decreased significantly with increasing age from 6 over 9 to 21 days. According to the 'changed template'-hypothesis, pecking preferences of HFP chickens would differ to thoseof LFP chickens but data could not support this hypothesis. Rather, the HFP chickens pecked at any form and colour with a much higher intensity than the LFP chickens lending support to the hyperactivity model of feather pecking in that genetic selection for a higher level of FP is paralleled by a higher level of arousal leading to increased pecking to animate (FP) as well as inanimate (i.e. forms on a screen) stimuli.© Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart.

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