Comparing real-life and laboratory-induced stress reactivity on cardio-respiratory parameters: Differentiation of a tonic and a phasic component

To recreate stress in laboratory conditions, the nature of the elicited physiological reactions to the presentation of mental tasks has been extensively studied. However, whether this experimental response is equivalent to real-life stress reactivity is still under debate. We investigated cardio-respiratory reactivity to a sequential protocol of different mental tasks of varying difficulties, some of […]

Equine behaviour and heart rate in temperament tests with or without rider or handler

The aim of the present study was to compare horses’ heart rate (HR), heart rate variability (RMSSD, pNN50) and behaviour in the same temperament test when being ridden, led, and released free. Behavioural measurements included scores and linear measurements for reactivity (R), activity (A), time to calm down (T) and emotionality (E), recorded during the […]

Reactivity to humans and fearfulness tests: Field validation in Polish Cold Blood Horses

The aim of the present paper was to examine in field conditions the feasibility of the experimentally developed behavioural tests for assessment of two temperamental traits of cold blood horses: fearfulness and reactivity to humans. The predictive, convergent and discriminant validity of the tests was evaluated. Fifty-three Polish Cold Blood Horses (CBHs) were tested with […]

Behavioural reactivity affected by chronic stress: An experimental approach in calves submitted to environmental instability

Whereas physiological and behavioural responses to acute stressors are well documented, chronic stress remains difficult to assess in farm animals. The aim of the present paper is to investigate whether calves’ behavioural reactions to acute events are modified during chronic intermittent stress. Thirty-two calves housed in pairs were used. For half of the calves the […]

An objective measure of reactive behaviour in horses

Several tests have been devised in an attempt to detect behaviour modification due to training, supplements or diet in horses. These tests rely on subjective observations in combination with physiological measures, such as heart rate (HR) and plasma cortisol concentrations, but these measures do not definitively identify behavioural changes. The aim of the present studies […]

The effect of social buffering on fear responses in sheep (Ovis aries)

Fear in farm animals has been extensively studied because of its close relation to animal welfare. Numerous studies have categorized the behavioral responses of animals to stimuli that can elicit a fear reaction under social isolation conditions. However, farm animals are highly social and therefore these responses could be conditioned by isolation. The objective of […]

The effects of a high-starch or high-fibre diet on equine reactivity and handling behaviour

Increasing performance work in the horse is often associated with a reduction in the forage ration and an increase in concentrates, usually in the form of high-starch cereal grains. This type of diet has been associated with stereotypic behaviours and health problems. High-starch diets are also associated with a high glycaemic response, which has been […]

Assessment of temperament traits of white-lipped (Tayassu pecari) and collared peccaries (Pecari tajacu) during handling in a farmed environment

White-lipped (Tayassu pecari) and collared (Pecari tajacu) peccaries can be farmed as an alternative to subsistence hunting in Neotropical countries. The animals often show high reactivity to handling, usually involving capture with a net, which is a cause for concern because it poses risks to both animals’ and keepers’ welfare. We aimed to assess the […]

Development of personality tests to use in the field, stable over time and across situations, and linked to horses’ show jumping performance

This study aimed to identify tests that include all the criteria necessary to characterise reliably the personality of horses on a large scale: stability of measures across situations and over time, evaluation of independent dimensions, links with use and easy to organise for a large number of animals. For this purpose, two independent experiments were […]

Behavioural, endocrine and cardiac autonomic responses to a model of startle in horses

Startle is a fast response elicited by sudden acoustic, tactile or visual stimuli in a variety of animal species and in humans. The magnitude of startle response can be modulated by external and internal variables and can be a useful tool to study the sensory-motor integration in animals. Different stimuli have been used to induce […]