- The best cattle handler is one that is silent
This scientific article explains how the human voice causes stress in cattle. Cattle exposed to human voices at different levels all created a rise in heartbeat in the cattle. Screaming and hollering around cattle is obviously stressful, but even just talking at a normal level causes them to become nervous. This is why cattle markets can be very overwhelming for cattle. It is important that people working with livestock move calmly and speak as little as possible around them. Click HERE to read the whole article.
- Animals and people same core system
Animals and people have the same core emotion systems. All animals and people have the same core emotion systems in the brain. The same psychiatric medications, such as Prozac, that work for humans also work for animals. Karen Overall, Clinical Behavioural Medicine for Small Animals (St. Louis: Mosby, 1997)
- Importance of environmental-enrichment for pig welfare
Pigs have lively, active minds and they need to live in an enriched environment that lets them stimulate their seeking emotion. Understimulated pigs will chew off each other’s tails. It’s not agression, the pigs are just desperate for something to explore.
Temple Grandin, “Animals Make us Human”, Houghton Mifflin Harbourt, 2009.
Eyes on Animals feels strongly that pigs raised in intensive conditions are suffering because they have very little outlet to express their seeking emotions. There is nothing for them to do; they are kept in crowded conditions, in small indoor pens, on a slatted floor with no rooting material. Eyes on Animals encourage consumers to not purchase pig meat from factory farms.
- Milk yield higher in cows with calm owners.
The researcher Seabrook showed that milk yield was higher if the cowman moved in a deliberate, calm way and talked quietly to the cows and followed a regular routine.
Seabrook, M.F. (1977). Cowmanship. Farmers Weekly Extra, Dec. 23, 26pp.
- Piglet mortality continues to increase
Preweaning piglet mortality continues to increase every year. From just 2007 to 2008 mortality increased another 0,5%. In 2008 12.3% of all preweaned TOPIGS piglets died.
Source: Topigs Newsletter, 04/20/2009
- Litter size of sows alarmingly high
In 2007 Dutch pig farmers using TOPIGS genetics (a popular genetic type of pig that has been selected for productivety) had an average of 12.8 piglets per litter per sow. Just 1 year later litter size increased to 13.1 piglets.
- Abrupt weaning- greatest psychological stressor
During artificial abrupt weaning, the mother increases vocalizations, decreases her feed intake, and increases time spent searching. If left to nature, the weaning process in beef cattle would follow the milk production curve of the cow, peaking around 90 days after postpartum and then declining gradually. Natural weaning in zebu cattle normally occurs at around 11 months of age for bull calves and 9 months for female offspring. And there is never complete and abrupt abandonment of the calf by the cow. Instead they maintain a lifelong relationship of social contact and companionship even after the birth of successive sibling calves.
Source: Reinhardt, V. 2002. “Artifical weaning of calves: benefits and costs”. J. Appl.Anim.Welfare Sci. 5, 251-255 and Reinhardt, V., Reinhardt, A. 1981. “Natural sucking performance and age of weaning in zebu cattle”. J.Agri.Sci., 96, 309-312.
Beef farmers have very good economic reasons why they impose an early and artifical weaning date upon cows and calves. Adult cattle have lower nutritional requirements compared to calves and feed sources can be more efficiently used if adults and young cattle are fed separately. By imposing an artificial weaning date, producers are shifting the balance of responsiblity for raising the calf away from the mother and onto themselves, in an attempt to maximize the cow’s future production.
Source: Benson, J. and Rolling, Bernard. 2004 “The Well-Being of Farm Animals: challenges and solutions”. Blackwell Publising, pp 194-195.
- The change in genetics of “meat” chickens
From 1935 to 1995, the average weight of broiler (meat) chickens increased by 65 percent, while their time-to-market dropped 60% and their feed requirements dropped 57 percent. To gain a sense of the radicalness of this change, imagine human children growing to be 135kg in 10 years, while eating only granola bars and vitamine pills.
William Boyd, “Making Meat: Science, Technology, and American Poultry Production,” Technology and Culture 42 (October 2001): 613-637.
- Why are animals transported so far for slaughter?
In most places around the world, more and more small slaughterhouses are closing down. In America, for example, during the 1980s and 1990s more than 2000 small to middle-sized slaughterhouses were replaced by a handful of corporate plants capable of killing several million animals per plant per year. There are now fewer plants killing an ever growing number of animals – not only for the domestic market, but for the expanding global market.
Betsy Swart, “Interview with Gail Eisnitz” in ‘Friends of Animals’, Action Line (Fall 1998) 29.
- Pigs want to explore their world!
A scientific study found that pigs living in a seminatural environment spent 52 percent of daylight hours rooting and grazing and another 23 percent walking around investigating the environment. They are driven to explore their world. (Sadly, 95% of all pigs in the Netherlands are raised in conventional systems, where, at the very best, the only type of exploration they are offered is to inspect a ball at the end of a chain).
Grandin, Temple and Catherine Johnson. Animals make us Human. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston 2009: p. 173.
- Cattle are sensitive, handle with respect
Cattle are very sensitive to how they are treated and will withdraw from humans, as well as other cattle, who have treated them unkindly. Researchers have found that cattle will approach people who have handled them gently much more frequently than those who have handled them more agressivley. Jeffrey Rushen, research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, found that just the presence of a human of whom a cow is frightened lowers her milk production by 10 percent. Edmund Pajor, professor of animal behaviour and welfare at Purdue University, discovered that cows are as sensitive to yelling and hollering as they are to rough physical handling. It is wise, like with most animals, to be calm and respectful when handling them.
Hatkoff, Amy. The Inner World of Farm Animals. Steward, Tabori & Chang, New York. 2009.
- Turkeys are very affectionate and emotional
Turkeys display immense affection toward humans. They love to be caressed. And people often remark that they respond just like their own dogs and cats. Turkeys make even make a purring sound when they are content. Some turkeys are more affectionate than others, climbing into your lap and making themselves as comfortable as can be. At Farm Sanctuary in California, a particularly friendly turkey named Lydia became known for her propensity to hug. As soon as you crouched down, she would run over to you, press her body against yours, and crane her head over your shoulders clucking all the while. It’s amazing how so generous a hug can be given by something with no arms.
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, founder of Compassionate Cooks.
- Cows using tools
Joe Stookey and his research team of the University of Saskatchewan of Canada have been studying ways to reduce the stress caused by abrupt weaning of calves, by trying “fence-line weaning”, where the animals cannot touch but can see each other.. He explains “most of the time the cows and calves will stand facing each other at the fence and call out, but sometimes we noticed the cows would enter the tin shed where it was impossible for them to see their calf and begin a long and loud series of calls. Sometimes cows were swinging their heads into the shed to call out long and loud and then swing their head out of the tin shed and look toward the calves”. The calls always seemed louder when made inside the shed, where they echoed and reverberated. Although this is a very anecdotal story, it does excite the scientists to think that perhaps the cows were using the shed as a type of microphone, wondering why their calves were just standing facing them and not coming over to drink and thinking that they didn´t hear their calls well enough. Tool use in animals represents higher cognitive thinking on the part of the animal.
Hatkoff, Amy. The Inner World of Farm Animals. 2009, p.69.
- Fibre used for poultry welfare
The general opinion among poultry producers and poultry-feed maunfacturers is that fibre content in poultry feed should be kept below 7%. Fibre is considered negative because it slows chicken growth and production (it seems to reduce the efficiency of feed utilization). However, recently a survey found that fibre in the feed may improve the chickens’ welfare from two aspects. Firstly, chickens that ate lower amounts of fibre suffered more from cannibalism than chickens fed with higher fibre diets. It may be due to the longer period of time chickens needed to digest high-fibre feed or just because they received more feed. The exact relationship is still being researched. Secondly, another study demonstrated that fibre ingredients in laying hens’ diet can reduce the ammonia emission in their manure. Fibre in the chickens’ digestive tract replaces some of the nitrogen (which transforms to uric acid and further causes ammonia emission) to provide energy for the good-bacteria. Furthermore, the increase of bacterial metabolism transforms ammonia to ammonium, which is less volatile for chickens’ health. In short, a higher fibre diet should be put into practice to upgrade the welfare of chickens.
World Poultry, No. 1, Volume 28, 2012
- Seperation of dairy cows & their new-born calf
In order to produce more milk for consumers, cows are kept regularly pregnant and their calves are taken away from them within minutes to several hours after birth. The calves then spend several weeks all alone in individual boxes (see photo above taken at an organic dairy farm).
The scientific research project run by the Louis Bolk Institute “Calf with the Mother” is following an alternative management system that provides significant ethical advantages. A number of Dutch dairy farmers have decided to keep the calves with their mothers for several months after birth. They believe that it is traumatic for the mother and calf to be separated from each other so quickly, and remaining together is necessary for the healthy social development of all the animals in the herd. On these farms, the calves begin their weaning process from their mothers at 2.5 months of age and complete it at 3.5 months.
Read full article
- Patience and small groups key to loading pigs
Moving small groups of pigs patiently onto a livestock truck does not take any longer than rushing large groups on board. Many truck drivers feel rushed in their job, and load large groups of animals impatiently onto the truck. Studies have shown however that moving small groups of pigs calmly towards the truck is the way to get things done without the stress.
Moving groups of 5 or 6 pigs at a time was the optimum number for loading. Loading 170 pigs onto a truck took the same amount of time using groups of 5 or 6 pigs compared with groups of 10, and the latter resulted in elevated heart rates. Gosalvez et al., 2006 Influence of Season, distance and mixed loads on the physical and carcass integrity of pigs transported to slaughter. Meat Science, 73,553-558.
Averos et al., reported in their survey on mortality of pigs in five EU countries that the risk of mortality increased as the average time taken to load them decreased. Averos et al.,2008. Factors affecting the mortality of pigs being transported to slaughter. Vet. Rec., 163, 386-390.
- Calves remain sensible long after being cut
In calves, the brain is supplied by both the carotid and the vertebral arteries (Baldwin 1971). While the carotids are severed during bleeding, the vertebral arteries are not. After the throat is cut, calves may still receive blood to the brain via the vertebral arteries (Newhook and Blackmore 1982; Blackmore 1985, personal communication). Newhook and Blackmore (1982) report that young calves remain sensible for 65 to 85 seconds after the throat is cut with a possible resurgence of sensibility up to 123 to 323 seconds later. In older calves, 31 to 42 days of age, the onset of unconsciousness was 28 to 168 seconds after bleeding (Blackmore et al. 1983).
Grandin, Temple. Cardiac Arrest Stunning Of Livestock And Poultry
With 1997 Updates. Advances in Animal Welfare Science. M.W.Fox and L.D.Mickley 1985/86 (Editors) Martinus Nijhoff Publisher
- Breeders push the biology of dairy cows too hard
There is a huge difference in strength between young Holstein (“milk” breed) and young Angus (“beef” breed) calves. Breeders have overselected so much for milk production that they have created a weak, fragile animal. Also, some producers are feeing Holsteins too much grain instead of roughage to force them to grow faster than they should. They don’t give the Holsteins heifers enough time to grow a solid skeleton and hard hooves that would make them less susceptible to lameness. It takes two years for a heifer to grow up and on some dairy farms she lasts for only two years of milking, then she has to be slaughtered because she is too sick or lame. Normally cattle ought to be able to live well into their late teenage years.
Grandin, Temple and Catherine Johnson. Animals make us Human. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston 2009: p. 164.
- Pigs use mirror images
Mirror usage has been taken to indicate some degree of awareness in animals. Can pigs, Sus scrofa, obtain information from a mirror? When put in a pen with a mirror in it, young pigs made movements while apparently looking at their image. After 5 h spent with a mirror, the pigs were shown a familiar food bowl, visible in the mirror but hidden behind a solid barrier. Seven out of eight pigs found the food bowl in a mean of 23 s by going away from the mirror and around the barrier. Naïve pigs shown the same looked behind the mirror. The pigs were not locating the food bowl by odour, did not have a preference for the area where the food bowl was and did not go to that area when the food bowl was visible elsewhere. To use information from a mirror and find a food bowl, each pig must have observed features of its surroundings, remembered these and its own actions, deduced relationships among observed and remembered features and acted accordingly. This ability indicates assessment awareness in pigs. The results may have some effects on the design of housing conditions for pigs and may lead to better pig welfare.
Centre for Animal Welfare and Anthrozoology, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, U.K. Received 15 January 2009; revised 18 February 2009; accepted 26 July 2009. MS. number: 09-00034R. Available online 25 September 2009.