Is the avoidance distance test for the assessment of animals’ responsiveness to humans influenced by either the dominant or flightiest animal in the group?

A previously described (Windschnurer et al., 2009) avoidance distance test was used to assess animals’ fear of humans in order to quantify the human-animal relationship (HAR). This study investigated the influence of the dominant and flightiest animals within a group on the responsiveness of animals during the avoidance distance test. Eighty-eight pregnant heifers comprised of […]

Methodological aspects for the assessment of social behaviour and avoidance distance on dairy farms

Some aspects of on-farm assessment of social behaviour and avoidance distance were investigated on 20 Austrian dairy farms. The avoidance distance of at least 75% of cows was assessed. Social behaviour of the cows was observed for one hour and the number of animals standing was recorded every 10 min. Lameness of each animal was […]

The influence of gentle interactions on avoidance distance towards humans, weight gain and physiological parameters in group-housed dairy calves

The quality of the relationship between cattle and their caretakers is important for animal welfare and productivity. Nevertheless, the influence of gentle interactions on group-housed dairy calves has not been thoroughly studied so far. We examined the effects of 42 min of gentle interactions (stroking, gentle talking) during the first 14 days of life on […]

Effects of gentle interactions on the relationship with humans and on stress-related parameters in group-housed calves

Although the relationship between farm animals and humans has strong implications for animal welfare and productivity, there have been few experimental studies on the influence of gentle interactions in group-housed calves. In the present study, Austrian Simmental calves were housed in groups of four under standard management conditions. Fourteen calves experienced 40 min of additional […]

Gentle interactions decrease the fear of humans in dairy heifers independently of early experience of stroking

The relationship of farmed animals with humans has important implications for animal welfare and productivity. To investigate the short- and long-term effect of gentle interactions (stroking, talking in a gentle voice) during different life stages on the fear of humans, we tested heifers that had or had not experienced gentle interactions as calves in a […]

Validity and feasibility of Human-Animal Relationship tests for on-farm welfare assessment in dairy goats

This study aims at establishing suitable tests to measure the quality of the Human-Animal Relationship (HAR) in dairy goats for on-farm welfare assessment protocols by evaluating the predictive validity of different categories of HAR tests and their feasibility in on-farm condition. Twelve commercial dairy farms in Northern Italy were selected and classified as “good” (n […]