Farm Animal Cognition—Linking Behavior, Welfare and Ethics

Farm animal welfare is a major concern for society and food production. To more accurately evaluate animal farming in general and to avoid exposing farm animals to poor welfare situations, it is necessary to understand not only their behavioural but also their cognitive needs and capacities. Thus, general knowledge of how farm animals perceive and […]

Does the location of enrichment material affect behavior and dirtiness in growing female pigs?

The objective of this study was to investigate if female growing pigs spend similar amounts of time exploring a wooden stick as they do exploring enrichment material regardless of its proximity to the feeder. Forty-eight pigs aged 18 to 26 weeks allocated to 16 pens with three pigs per pen were studied. Fifty percent of the […]

Effects of parity and litter size on cortisol measures in commercially housed sows and their offspring

Breeding sows are regularly exposed to on-farm stressors throughout the duration of their production period. The impact of such stressors may differ for primi- and multiparous sows, as sows could learn to cope with stressors as they gain experience with them. If parity affects stress in sows, it may also impact their prenatal offspring through […]

Stress, behaviour and reproductive performance in female cattle and pigs

Female farm animals are exposed to a great variety of environmental and management related stressors. As a consequence, their reproductive and maternal abilities may be compromised through mechanisms acting on the hypothalamic, pituitary, ovarian and uterine function. Responses to short- and long-term stressors may differ as short-term stressors often fail to affect reproduction or even […]

Overall animal welfare reviewed. Part 3: Welfare assessment based on needs and supported by expert opinion

Welfare concerns that matter to animals is their state of need. Satisfaction and frustration of needs are associated with emotional states, the subjective experience of which directly determines the welfare status of an animal. Because emotional states are difficult to assess, overall welfare assessment (OWA) is best approached as an assessment of needs. For actual […]

Pigs: Behavior and Welfare Assessment

Compromised welfare leads to reduction in productivity and market forces can have negative effects when the welfare is shown to be poor. Thus, compromised animal welfare affects the economic sustainability of animal agriculture in more than one way. Without objective quantification, a compromise in welfare cannot be approved nor can the efficacy of corrective measures […]

The separate and interactive effects of handling and environmental enrichment on the behaviour and welfare of growing pigs

The aim of this experiment was to determine the interactive effects of handling and environmental enrichment on the behaviour, performance and welfare of the growing/finishing pig. Groups of pigs were exposed to one of eight treatments arranged in a 2×4 factorial design with two levels of handling (M: minimal and P: pleasant), and four levels […]

Signalling need: costly signals and animal welfare assessment

If animals signal their level of need for certain resources, scientists should be able to use these signals in assessing animal well-being. Theoretical models show that, under certain conditions, natural selection can favour the evolution of “honest” signalling systems, where vocal and other natural signals provide reliable indicators of the signaller’s needs. These conditions include […]

Discrimination of conspecifics by juvenile domestic pigs, Sus scrofa

Social recognition is important for the formation and maintenance of dominance hierarchies that are based on conspecific assessment. Pigs are assumed to recognize individuals because they react aggressively towards unfamiliar conspecifics, but we know little about the extent of their discriminatory abilities or the influential variables. We investigated the ability of 6-week-old female pigs to […]

Relationship between the response to the corneal reflex (depth of narcosis) and specific parameters in the slaughter blood of pigs narcotised with CO2

There has been insufficient research into CO2 stunning with regard to its effect on pigs being slaughtered. This lack of knowledge may be at least partly responsible for the partial rejection of CO2-stunning methods. During routine slaughter work, 598 pigs (average carcase weight: 94 kg) were evaluated. The stunning procedure was carried out in industrial […]