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Hamilton, New Zealand

Schutz K.E.,Agresearch Ltd. | Huddart F.J.,Agresearch Ltd. | Sutherland M.A.,Agresearch Ltd. | Stewart M.,InterAg | Cox N.R.,Agresearch Ltd.
Journal of Dairy Science

Dairy cattle managed in some pasture-based systems, such as in New Zealand, are predominantly kept outdoors all year around but are taken off pasture for periods, especially in wet weather to avoid soil damage. The use of rubber matting for such stand-off practices is becoming more common to improve animal welfare, and our objective was to investigate the effects of different space allowances on cow behavior and physiology when managed temporarily on rubber mats during a weather-induced stand-off period. Thirty pregnant, nonlactating Holstein-Friesian dairy cows were divided into 6 groups of 5 and exposed to 6 treatments following a Williams designed 6×6 Latin square. The treatments consisted of 6 space allowances on a 24-mm rubber surface during a simulated weather-induced stand-off period: 3.0, 4.5, 6.0, 7.5, 9.0, and 10.5 m2/cow. The stand-off period consisted of 18 h in the treatment pens followed by 6 h at pasture to allow for their daily feed intake (no feed was available during stand-off, following normal farm practice), for 3 consecutive days, with 6 d of recovery on pasture between treatments. When cows had more space available during the stand-off period, they spent more time lying on the rubber mats and less time lying on pasture during their daily 6-h feed break. Mean lying times (24 h, pasture and rubber mats combined) for the different space allowances were for 3.0 m2=7.5 h, 4.5 m2=10.2 h, 6.0 m2=11.9 h, 7.5 m2=12.4 h, and 10.5 m2=13.8 h. At 6.0 m2 of space allowance per cow, the animals spent similar times lying per 24 h as when the cows were on recovery on pasture in between treatments (11.9 and 11.2 h, respectively). Aggressive interactions and nonaggressive lying disturbances were more frequent at lower space allowances (aggressive interactions decreased by 35% from 3.0 to 4.5 m2/cow, with a slower decline thereafter). Cows were dirtier after the stand-off period, particularly at lower space allowances. All cows had higher gait scores after the stand-off period; however, this change was unaffected by space allowance and very minor. Stride length, plasma cortisol, and body weight were all unaffected by the stand-off period and space allowance. The results suggest that to reduce aggressive behavior and maintain adequate lying times, dairy cattle managed temporarily on rubber matting for up to 18 h per day, without feed, should have a space allowance of at least 4.5 to 6.0 m2 per cow. © 2015 American Dairy Science Association. Source

Worth G.M.,LIC | Schutz K.E.,Agresearch Ltd. | Stewart M.,InterAg | Cave V.M.,Agresearch Ltd. | And 2 more authors.
Applied Animal Behaviour Science

Traditional substrate types for dairy calves, such as sawdust, are becoming difficult and/or expensive for farmers to obtain in New Zealand. Therefore, there is a need to evaluate alternative rearing substrates that provide an acceptable level of animal welfare. The preference of dairy calves for four different rearing substrates was evaluated (traditional and novel). At 1 wk of age, 24 calves were housed in groups of four, in pens which were evenly divided into four rearing substrates: sawdust, rubber, sand and stones. During the first 3 d calves were given free access to all four substrates. Calves were then restricted to each substrate type for 48 h. In order to rank preference, calves were subsequently exposed to two surfaces simultaneously in a pairwise manner for 48 h until all animals had experienced all six treatment combinations. Finally, calves were again given free access to all four substrates simultaneously for 48 h. Lying behaviour and location in the pen was recorded for the final 24 h during the free-choice and pairwise periods using video recorders and accelerometers. During the restriction period, lying behaviour was recorded for the final 24 h using accelerometers and play behaviour was recorded over 12 h using video recorders. Calves were blood sampled during the restriction period to measure cortisol, glucose and lactate concentrations, and white blood cell numbers. Preference was determined based on time spent lying on each substrate. During the initial free-choice period, calves spent more time lying on sawdust (76.6%, S.E.M.: 0.90%) than all other substrates (rubber: 1.6%, sand: 0.9% and stones: 0.5%, S.E.M.: 0.90%). When restricted to each substrate, calves spent more time running on sawdust (2.5 min/12 h, S.E.M.: 0.37 min), rubber (2.1 min/12 h, S.E.M.: 0.37 min) and sand (1.7 min/12 h, S.E.M.: 0.37 min) than on stones (0.9 min/12 h, S.E.M.: 0.37 min). In addition, calves spent more time lying on sawdust (17.8 h/24 h, S.E.M.: 0.38 h) and rubber (17.2 h/24 h, S.E.M.: 0.38 h) in comparison to sand (16.0 h/24 h, S.E.M.: 0.38 h) and stones (16.3 h/24 h, S.E.M.: 0.38 h). The order of preference of the rearing surfaces was sawdust > rubber > sand > stones. At the end of the study, when given free access to all rearing substrates again, calves spent a higher proportion of time lying on sawdust than all other substrates. Blood chemistry and haematology measures of calves were similar when restricted to each substrate type. In conclusion, dairy calves showed a clear preference for sawdust over rubber, sand and stones. The calves' preference for sawdust may be associated with the physical and thermal properties in comparison to the alternative substrates. © 2015 Elsevier B.V. Source

Guesgen M.J.,Massey University | Beausoleil N.J.,Massey University | Minot E.O.,Massey University | Stewart M.,InterAg | Stafford K.J.,Massey University
Applied Animal Behaviour Science

There is evidence that the presence of a conspecific can alter the experience of pain in humans and other animals. This 'social buffering' may be mediated by factors such as relatedness and familiarity. This study investigates whether and how the social context affects the behavioural response of lambs to painful tail-docking. Specifically, we investigated whether the presence of a lamb that is familiar, related or neither, and previous experience of the test environment affected pain expression. Forty-four lambs were reared to allow testing in one of three social conditions: Familiar Related (FR, twins), Familiar Unrelated (FU) or Unfamiliar Unrelated (UU). Each lamb was exposed to the test environment twice over two rounds, once as the actor (i.e. tail-docked) and once as the observer (not tail-docked). The pain-related behaviour of the actor lamb, as well as where it was looking was recorded before and after tail-docking. As expected, all docked lambs showed an increase in the frequency of active behaviours previously associated with docking pain, an increase in the time spent in abnormal postures and decrease in time spent in normal postures. However, lambs tested with a familiar, related partner (twin) showed a smaller increase in rolling than the other groups (mean ranks of change ± SE: FR 16.43 ± 3.08, FU 26.27 ± 2.59, UU 26.00 ± 3.19). In addition, lambs who had previously experienced the test environment showed overall less activity and a smaller increase in active behaviours after docking than those docked on their first exposure (e.g. round 1 and 2 mean ranks ± SE: jump 49.37 ± 2.94, 40.42 ± 3.02; looking at own tail 49.59 ± 2.51, 39.74 ± 2.57; round 1 and 2 mean ranks of change ± SE: headshake 28.24 ± 2.35, 16.73 ± 2.48; abnormal upright 29.04 ± 2.45, 15.80 ± 2.58). This is the first study to demonstrate that the occurrence of social buffering on lamb pain behaviour depends on the relationship between the actor and observer and on previous experience of the test environment. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. Source

Sutherland M.,Agresearch Ltd. | Dowling S.,Agresearch Ltd. | Backus B.,Texas Tech University | Stewart M.,InterAg
Precision Livestock Farming 2015 - Papers Presented at the 7th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming, ECPLF 2015

Stress can negatively impact animal health and production, therefore to improve current management practices it is important to be able to measure stress in animals. Most methods for measuring stress in pigs are invasive (e.g. blood sampling) or require fitting animals with devices (e.g. heart rate monitors). These techniques can cause a stress response themselves and perturb the measurement of interest. Infrared thermography (IRT) has been validated as a non-invasive measure to detect pain and stress (e.g. fright, disbudding, and castration) in cattle. The objectives of this pilot study were to 1) investigate the potential for IRT as a non-invasive measure of stress in pigs and 2) compare the eye and snout as regions to provide the most sensitive measure of stress. Ten, 5-week-old, pigs received all three of the following treatments in a randomised cross-over design: 1) saline infusion (SAL), 2) epinephrine infusion (EPI) and 3) restraint (RES) for 2 minutes. Continuous IRT images of the eye and snout, heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) were recorded 5 minutes prior and 10 minutes post-treatment. Eye temperature was lower in response to an infusion of EPI and RES than SAL, but only RES caused a change in snout temperature. Conversely, HR was higher in RES and EPI than SAL pigs. Temperature changes suggest that the eye may be a more sensitive area to assess stress than the snout. However, there were some methodological issues associated with taking IRT images of the eye including the small size of the eye and mobility of the pigs. IRT has potential for measuring stress in pigs non-invasively, however, further research needs to be undertaken to improve the methodology for collecting the images and correcting the data for environmental conditions. Source

Guesgen M.J.,Massey University | Beausoleil N.J.,Massey University | Minot E.O.,Massey University | Stewart M.,InterAg | And 2 more authors.
Animal Welfare

Ear posture, or the frequency of postural changes, may reflect various emotional states of animals. In adult sheep (Ovis aries), the 'forward' ear posture has been associated with negative experiences whereas the 'plane' posture has been associated with positive ones. This study aimed to see whether ear postures related to the experience of pain in lambs. The ear behaviour of four to eight week-old lambs (n = 44) was measured before and after tail-docking using a rubber ring. Each lamb was docked and its behaviour recorded while in the company of an observer lamb of similar age; each acted once as focal (docked) lamb and once as observer within the same pair. Lambs were docked in one of two rounds, so that half were docked in their first exposure to the test environment and half in their second exposure. Tail-docking was associated with an increase in the proportion of time spent with ears backward and decreases in the proportion of time spent with ears plane and forward (mean [± SEM]: Backward: pre 0.12 [± 0.04], post 0.56 [± 0.04]; Plane: pre 0.55 [± 0.05], post 0.19 [± 0.05]; Forward: pre 0.27 [± 0.04], post 0.18 [± 0.04]). There was also a significant increase in the number of changes between ear postures after docking (pre 5.63 [± 0.66], post 9.11 [± 0.66]). Over both periods, female lambs held their ears asymmetrically for longer than males (mean of ranks [± SEM] [raw proportion of time]: Females 52.14 [± 3.44] [0.09 (± 0.01)], males 37.54 [± 3.40] [0.05 (± 0.01)]). This is the first study to demonstrate changes in the ear posture of lambs associated with the negative experience of pain. Ear posture is a non-invasive indicator of physical pain in lambs and may be useful for evaluating potential welfare compromise. © 2016 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. Source

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