Submitted to: Livestock Environment International Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/5/1996
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: New ways for providing for the physical and psychological well-being of livestock are required in current production systems. A series of experiments have been conducted in the Livestock Behavior Research Unit to better understand how the animal's environment affects measures of well-being. In a collaborative study with Texas Tech University, indoor vs soutdoor-reared piglets were compared to determine behavior and anatomical differences in brain structure at three major cortical sites. Behavior, dendritic branching and length measures were compared for 6 outdoor-reared and 6 indoor-reared 8-week-old gilts. Pigs reared in the more complex outdoor environment had more auditory dendritic segments than pigs reared in the indoor environment. Outdoor-reared pigs were more active and showed greater rooting (P<.05) than indoor-reared pigs. This study indicates that our perception of the animals environment may be much different than the animals perception and that rearing pigs in confinement or outdoor environments does not lead to environmentally-induced neuroanatomical signs of sensory deprivation. Another series of studies on animal-environment interactions compared group-housing systems for young calves with and without environmental enrichment devices. Calves raised in groups spent a similar amount of time engaged in oral behavior. Calves without environmental enrichment devices spent 10.3 min/24 hr cross sucking on other calves while those calves with enrichment spent 0.6 min/24 hr (P=.176) cross-sucking. The potential to influence behavior by modifying the animals environment appears promising and may be a way of enhancing both psychological and physiological well-being in production environments.