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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Applied Animal Well-Being and Environmental Enrichment

Author
item Morrow, Julie

Submitted to: Indiana Veterinary Medical Association Meetings Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: There currently is not a consise definition of the term "animal well being". A description of animal well being can range anywhere from how an animal adapts to its environment all the way to how it feels. Nontheless, the way we raise livestock is of great concern to the general (meat eating) public. Livestock are housed in environments that we create for them so understanding how animals relate to their environment is important for understanding well-being. In addition, knowing how information gathered from the environment is used by the animal to adapt is also required. Finally, based on the first two steps, an animal will respond to its environment. This response can be classified as behavioral, physiological or a stress response. All of these responses can be measured. The current problem is how to change the animal's environment to enhance well being and productivity. Two studies have been conducted to determine if environmental enrichment can increase well being for dairy calves. Research has also been conducted to determine if brain development is an indicator of well-being and an appropriate environment for pigs. By developing techniques for environmental enrichment we will be able to design environments for farm animals that enhance both well being and productivity. Producers will then be able to assure consumers that food animals are being raised in environments that optimize well being thus sustaining a market for agricultural products.

Technical Abstract: The impact of environmental enrichment devices on behavior of dairy calves was studied. Behavior of 6 group-housed calves was continuously recorded. Five enrichment devices were present in the pen: large and small Kong toys, plastic ball, smooth chain link chain, Braden bottle with calf starter feed and a calf lollie. Frequency and duration of enrichment device use changed dover time with the most dramatic change occurring with the use of the calf lollie (frequency increased from 0 to 14.2 min/24 hr; P=.00015 over the three time periods). Braden bottle usage was higher in both duration and frequency during the first and second time periods (43.5 and 71.33 min/24 hr and 7.33 vs. 10.66 for duration and frequency) than during the third time period (11.2 and 2.6 for frequency and duration; P=.011). The large and small Kongs were used consistently with longer duration seen with the small Kong. Neither the ball nor the chain were utilized much by calves. Cross suckling duration decreased across the 3 periods (P=.0069). Providing environmental enrichment devices in calf pens was associated with a decrease in the duration of cross suckling. In this study, devices providing a food reward (Braden bottle) or that could provide the calf with a substrate for sucking (Kong toys) were preferred by calves over other devices.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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