‘Freedom from hunger’ and preventing obesity: the animal welfare implications of reducing food quantity or quality

In animals, including humans, free access to high-quality (generally energy-dense) food can result in obesity, leading to physiological and health problems. Consequently, various captive animals, including laboratory and companion animals and certain farm animals, are often kept on a restricted diet. Quantitative restriction of food is associated with signs of hunger such as increases in […]

Zoomorphism and anthropomorphism: fruitful fallacies?

Zoo- and anthropomorphism may both be scientific heresies but both may serve as a basis for thought (and real) experiments designed to explore our ability to assess quality of life as perceived by another sentient animal. Sentience, a major contributor to evolutionary fitness in a complex environment, implies ‘feelings that matter’. Strength of motivation is […]

Measurement of feeding motivation in sheep and the effects of food restriction

The availability of food is a crucial factor determining the health and growth of animals. Prolonged or severe food restriction will trigger the subjective state of hunger, which could potentially reduce welfare. We refined a methodology for the measurement of feeding motivation as an indicator of hunger, evaluated the effects of food restriction on feeding […]

Cross-sucking by dairy calves may become a habit or reflect characteristics of individual calves more than milk allowance or weaning

To examine the effects of milk allowance and weaning age on cross-sucking, 45 dairy calves were housed in groups of nine and fed milk and grain-based starter feed from automated feeders and allocated to three treatment groups: (A) Low-Milk Early-Weaned (fed 6 L/d of milk until weaned at 47 d of age), (B) High-Milk Early-Weaned (fed […]

Assessment of hunger in growing broiler breeders in relation to a commercial restricted feeding programme

From two weeks of age female broiler breeder chickens were fed either on a commercial daily ration (R), twice that amount (2R), or ad libitum (AL). Motivation to eat in R and 2R birds was compared every third week with that of AL birds subjected to 3-72h food deprivation. AL and 2R birds grew three […]

Motivation to obtain a food reward of pregnant ewes in negative energy balance: Behavioural, metabolic and endocrine considerations

Low food availability often coincides with pregnancy in grazing animals. This study investigated how chronic reductions in food intake affected feeding motivation, and metabolic and endocrine parameters in pregnant sheep, which might be indicative of compromised welfare. Ewes with an initial Body Condition Score of 2.7 ± 0.3 (BCS; 0 indicates emaciation and 5 obesity) […]