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There are increasing local and international pressures for farm animal welfare monitoring schemes. Housing of farm animals is a contentious issue for many, although the impact of the housing system may be overestimated by some. In contrast, the topic of stockmanship has received relatively little attention, even though research has shown that animal carers or stockpeople have a major impact on the welfare of their livestock. While welfare monitoring schemes are likely to improve animal welfare, the impact of such schemes will only be realised by recognising the limitations of stockpeople, monitoring ‘stockmanship’ and providing specific stockperson training to target key aspects of stockmanship. Appropriate strategies to recruit and train stock-people in the livestock industries are integral to safeguarding the welfare of livestock. Monitoring the key job-related characteristics of the stockperson, attitudes to animals and to working with these animals, empathy, work motivation and technical knowledge and skills, provides the opportunity to detect deficits in stockmanship and the necessity for further targeted training. Due to the strong relationships between stockperson attitudes and behaviours and animal fear responses, as well as the relationships between attitudes and other job-related characteristics, we believe attitudes, together with empathy, work motivation and technical knowledge and skills, should be the principal focus of measuring stockmanship in on-farm welfare monitoring schemes.
There are accumulating international data in a number of livestock industries that show that a negative attitude by stockpeople towards interacting with pigs, dairy cattle and poultry is correlated with increased levels of fear and stress in farm animals and in turn reduced animal productivity. While most of this research has been on-farm, one study has shown similar attitude-behaviour correlations in a pig abattoir. The major aim of this research was to examine the stockperson attitude-behaviour at sheep and cattle abattoirs. Twenty-two Australian abattoirs participated in the collection of stockperson attitudes and behaviour (81 stockpeople — 35 cattle stockpeople and 46 sheep stockpeople; six abattoirs slaughtering cattle, six slaughtering sheep and ten slaughtering both cattle and sheep). Several significant correlations between stockperson attitudes and behaviour were detected. In particular, the perceived pressures imposed by perceived lack of control over their actions, perceived time constraints, perceived effect of poor facilities and inappropriate beliefs about arousing livestock were all associated with frequent use of forceful handling behaviours by the stockperson. These results were similar to observations in pig abattoirs that have been reported previously. These relationships at cattle and sheep abattoirs indicate that there may be an opportunity to improve stockperson behaviour and consequently reduce stress in sheep and cattle at abattoirs by targeting attitudes (and behaviour) for improvement, with appropriate educational and training material in a way that is similar to the uses of such training with livestock species in farm settings.
This study reports novel information on the animal handling, management and human-animal interactions in Indonesian cattle abattoirs. The slaughter of 304 cattle was observed and there was a high percentage of re-stuns in all abattoirs (range: 8-18.9%) when compared to a variety of international auditing guidelines. The average stun-to-neck cut time was within international recommendations (average: 9 s; range: 4-15 s). Time spent in lairage varied between animals and facilities and was compliant with international guidelines. Handling times were extremely variable (2 s-23 min 40s), but were only weakly correlated with a variety of handler techniques including the total number of handler interactions (sum of visual, auditory and tactile interactions, suggesting that long handling time does not increase handler interactions. There was a moderate correlation between the subjective handling scale and most of the objective behaviours, indicating that this may be a useful way to summarise handler behaviour in future assessments. The current study provides novel information about animal welfare in Indonesian abattoirs and highlights that management practices at the four abattoirs generally comply with international standards. The results also suggest that the subjective handling scale was moderately associated with the frequency of handler interactions, and so may be a useful measure of handler behaviour.
Humane slaughter implies that an animal experiences minimal pain and distress before it is killed. Stunning is commonly used to induce insensibility but can lead to variable results or be considered unsatisfactory by some religious groups. Microwave energy can induce insensibility in rats, and high power equipment has recently been developed for sheep and cattle. We examined the effectiveness of different settings for microwave energy delivery, power and duration, to induce insensibility based on electroencephalography (EEG) of anaesthetised cows, using the minimal anaesthesia model. All applications resulted in the appearance of seizure-like complexes in the EEG, a pattern considered incompatible with awareness. Shorter duration of application resulted in more rapid EEG changes, as quickly as 3 s. Higher power resulted in a longer duration of EEG suppression, at least 37 s and up to 162 s. Microwave energy can induce insensibility in cattle based on seizure-like complexes in the EEG.
The current literature on the behaviour, health, and management of companion dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) indicates that their welfare is often compromised. While there are many factors that have the potential to influence the welfare of companion dogs, carer behaviour is highly influential. Therefore, in order to improve the welfare of companion dogs, it is vital to understand the general and specific human factors that underpin carer behaviour. One such factor that has received little attention in the scientific literature is ‘duty of care’. This paper will firstly review several extant, empirically validated models of human behaviour including the Cognitive Hierarchy model, the Schwartz Theory of Basic Human Values, the Theory of Planned Behaviour, and Hemsworth and Coleman's Animal-Carer model. Secondly, by combining aspects of moral obligation and care, a strong theoretical argument will be presented for the role of ‘duty of care’ as a fundamental motivational driver of animal-carer behaviour. Finally, by integrating ‘duty of care’ with the aforementioned existing models, a hypothesised model of Pet Care Competency is presented, providing a more detailed representation of animal carer motivations than previously documented. Drawing together this wide range of behavioural research and psychological theory, the Pet Care Competency model provides a strong conceptual framework for future empirical investigation. Once the relevant values, beliefs, and attitudes that underpin ‘duty of care’ and contribute most strongly to an individual's Pet Care Competency are identified, this model can be utilised to inform behaviour change programmes that aim to improve carer behaviour and, consequently, dog welfare. By employing this model to identify and target the key elements of carer motivation, a more enduring outcome may be achieved than traditional knowledge-based interventions. This work has the potential to significantly improve the outcomes of animal welfare education and intervention programmes, warranting further exploration.
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