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It has taken more than 40 years for the fields of immunology and neuroscience to capture the potential impact of the mechanistic understanding of how an active immune signalling brain might function. These developments have grown an appreciation for the immunocompetent cells of the central nervous system and their key role in the health and disease of the brain and spinal cord. Moreover, the understanding of the bidirectional communication between the brain and the peripheral immune system has evolved to capture an understanding of how mood can alter immune function and vice versa. These concepts are rapidly evolving the field of psychiatry and medicine as a whole. However, the advances in human medicine have not been capitalised upon yet in animal husbandry practice. Of specific attention are the implications that these biological systems have for creating and maintaining heightened pain states. This review will outline the key concepts of brain–immune communication and the immediate opportunities targeting this biology can have for husbandry practices, with a specific focus on pain.
Recent data suggest that organic broilers often score worse on footpad lesions than conventional broilers but also that the current scoring of organic broiler feet may be misleading. In order to characterise footpad lesions in organic broilers, this study assessed and compared footpad lesions in a sample of 2987 conventional and 3578 organic broiler feet obtained from a large Danish abattoir during summer and winter. The feet were scored according to two scoring systems: the modified Danish surveillance scoring system and a histopathology-based new scoring system specifically developed to target the ability to differentiate between broiler feet with hyperkeratosis and ulcers. For both systems, all broiler feet with visible lesions were cross-sectionally incised. Significant differences between the two production systems were found for both scoring systems (χ2 = 710; P < 0.001 and χ2 = 247; P < 0.001 for the new and the surveillance systems, respectively), showing that a larger proportion of the organic feet compared to conventional feet – summer and winter – exhibited signs of hyperkeratosis. In addition, a smaller fraction of the organic feet than of the conventional feet were given the outermost scores, that is, normal or ulcerated; 13.4% v. 25.3% broiler feet were given score 0 for organic v. conventional production systems, respectively (χ2 = 152; P < 0.001), and 18.4% v. 23.8% feet were given score 4 for organic v. conventional production systems, respectively (χ2 = 308; P < 0.001). Thus, the results suggest that surveillance scoring systems such as the one used in Denmark are useful for the examination of footpad lesions in broilers from both types of production systems. However, the results have also raised attention to a typical characteristic of the feet of organic broilers, that is, profound hyperkeratosis, which may underlie potential misclassifications in surveillance scoring systems like the one used in Denmark. Among the possible solutions to this challenge to the correctness and fairness of the scoring system are improved procedures (such as mandatory incision), training of technicians and calibration of results (especially for the organic footpads).
Heart rate variability (HRV) is a proxy measure of autonomic function and can be used as an indicator of swine stress. While traditional linear measures are used to distinguish between stressed and unstressed treatments, inclusion of nonlinear HRV measures that evaluate data structure and organization shows promise for improving HRV interpretation. The objective of this study was to evaluate the inclusion of nonlinear HRV measures in response to an acute heat episode. Twenty 12- to 14-week-old growing pigs were individually housed for 7 days and acclimated to thermoneutral conditions (20.35°C ± 0.01°C; 67.6% ± 0.2% RH) before undergoing one of the two treatments: (1) thermoneutral control (TN; n = 10 pigs) or (2) acute heat stress (HS; n = 10 pigs; 32.6°C ± 0.1°C; 26.2% ± 0.1% RH). In Phase 1 of the experimental procedure (P1; 60 min), pigs underwent a baseline HRV measurement period in thermoneutral conditions before treatment [Phase 2; P2; 60 min once gastrointestinal temperature (Tg) reached 40.6°C], where HS pigs were exposed to heated conditions and TN pigs remained in thermoneutral conditions. After P2, all pigs were moved back to thermoneutral conditions (Phase 3; P3; 60 min). During each phase, Tg data were collected every 5 min and behavioural data were collected to evaluate the amount of time each pig spent in an active posture. Additionally, linear (time and frequency domain) and nonlinear [sample entropy (SampEn), de-trended fluctuation analysis, percentage recurrence, percentage determinism (%DET), mean diagonal line length in a recurrence plot] HRV measures were quantified. Heat stressed pigs exhibited greater Tg (P = 0.002) and spent less time in an active posture compared to TN pigs during P2 (P = 0.0003). Additionally, low frequency to high frequency ratio was greater in HS pigs during P3 compared to TN pigs (P = 0.02). SampEn was reduced in HS pigs during P2 (P = 0.01) and P3 (P = 0.03) compared to TN pigs. Heat stressed pigs exhibited greater %DET during P3 (P = 0.03) and tended to have greater %DET (P = 0.09) during P2 than TN pigs. No differences between treatments were detected for the remaining HRV measures. In conclusion, linear HRV measures were largely unchanged during P2. However, changes to SampEn and %DET suggest increased heat stress as a result of the acute heat episode. Future work should continue to evaluate the benefits of including nonlinear HRV measures in HRV analysis of swine heat stress.
This chapter analyzes animal welfare texts published by the RSPCA in the late 1830s and written by William Drummon, John Styles, and William Youatt; articles from the RSPCA’s journal Animal World; and the discourse from the Vegetarian Society and London Vegetarian Society. I argue that the RSPCA constructed animal subjectivity within forms of pastoral power that reinforced their subjection. At the same time, the RSPCA’s construction of animals as subjects with thoughts, feelings, character, and individuality cultivated a striking liberalized animal subject that both challenged and reinforced the anthropocentric logic structuring Victorian liberalism. Taken together, all three organizations demonstrate the extent to which animals were influenced by nineteenth-century political thought and affected by governmentality, yet at times succeeded in challenging the primacy of a liberal human subject and the dominance of Victorian liberalism.
The Introduction lays out the book’s argument, intervention, theoretical framework, and relationship with previous scholarship. It gives an overview of previous work on Victorian animals and Victorian liberalism, and explains how the book engages with both conversations. It also shows how the argument is indebted to theoretical work in animal studies and posthumanism.
This chapter examines nineteenth-century parliamentary debates over anti-cruelty legislation, and argues that while attempts to bring animals into a liberal political community challenged notions of the law, government, property, and human sovereignty, they often reinforce animal subjection. I use the lens of governmentality to show how the debates project regulatory strategies of liberalism onto the animal world, and argue these laws were often less liberating than has been previously discussed. At the same time, however, drives for more legislation led to new understandings of the law, and conceptualizations of certain animals as political subjects challenged major aspects of liberal political thought, such as understandings of property, the role of government, and laissez-faire ideology. These debates, as they took place within parliament and the wider public sphere, constructed a liberalized animal subject with character, simultaneously reinforcing and reinventing the liberal subject.
Low atmospheric pressure stunning (LAPS) is a novel approach to pre-slaughter stunning of chickens using progressive hypobaric hypoxia by the application of gradual decompression (280s cycle) according to a set of prescribed pressure curves. Low atmospheric pressure stunning produces a non-recovery state. Concerns have been raised relating to the possible pathological and welfare consequences of expansion of air in the body during LAPS. In a randomised trial, we compared the gross pathology of broilers exposed to LAPS with a control group euthanised by intravenous injection of pentobarbital sodium (60 mixed sex broilers per treatment). The birds were exposed to each treatment in triplets and all birds were subject to necropsy examination to detect and score (1 to 5, minimal to severe) haemorrhagic lesions or congestion for all major organs and cavities (e.g. air sacs, joints, ears and heart) as well as external assessment for product quality (e.g. wing tips). Behavioural data (latency to loss of posture and motionless) and chamber cycle data (temperature, humidity, pressure and oxygen availability) confirmed that LAPS had been applied in a manner representative of the commercial process. All of the organs observed were structurally intact for both treatment groups. No lesions were observed in the external ears, oral cavity, tracheal lumen, crop and air sacs of birds from either treatment group. There was no difference between treatments in the wingtips, nasal turbinates, thymus, biceps femoralis and colon. Haemorrhagic lesions were observed in the calvaria, brains, hearts and lungs of both treatment groups, but lesions in these areas were more severe in the LAPS treatment group. It was not possible to distinguish between pathological changes induced by decompression or recompression. In the barbiturate group, more severe haemorrhagic lesions were observed in the superficial pectoral muscles as well as greater congestion of the infraorbital sinuses, liver, spleens, duodenum, kidneys and gonads. These findings provide evidence that LAPS did not result in distension of the intestines and air sacs sufficient to cause changes, which were grossly visible on postmortem examination. There was also no evidence of barotrauma in the ears and sinuses. The pathological changes observed in the barbiturate treatment were as expected based on barbiturate toxicity. Low atmospheric pressure stunning appears to produce pathological changes by a variety of well-established mechanisms, and while these pathological data have limited value as welfare indicators, the results confirm that organ integrity was not compromised by the process.
When courts are faced with questions regarding the territorial scope of internal legislation, they are required to engage with controversial issues pertaining to the permissible boundaries of regulatory reach, which go beyond traditional conceptions of state sovereignty and non-intervention on which the functioning of courts is normally based. This Article examines the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union (‘CJEU’) in reviewing the legality and interpretation of the extraterritorial reach of EU environmental law, including animal welfare. It assesses the extent to which judicial review by the CJEU serves as a transnational mechanism for addressing legitimacy concerns raised by the unilateral exercise of EU regulatory power beyond EU borders.
In the UK, the pig industry is leading the way in the adoption of welfare outcome measures as part of their farm assurance scheme. The welfare outcome assessment (WOA), known as Real Welfare, is conducted by the farmers’ own veterinary surgeon. For the first time, this has allowed the pig industry to evaluate welfare by directly assessing the animal itself and to document the welfare of the UK pig industry as a whole. Farmer perspectives of the addition of a welfare outcome assessment to their farm assurance scheme have yet to be explored. Here, we investigate how the introduction of the Real Welfare protocol has been perceived by the farmers involved, what value it has (if any), whether any practical changes on farm have been a direct consequence of Real Welfare and ultimately whether they consider that the welfare of their pigs has been improved by the introduction of the Real Welfare protocol. Semi-structured interviews with 15 English pig farmers were conducted to explore their perceptions and experiences of the Real Welfare process. Our findings fall into three key areas: the lived experience of Real Welfare, on-farm changes resulting from Real Welfare and suggested improvements to the Real Welfare process as it currently stands. In all the three areas, the value farmers placed on the addition of WOA appeared to reflect their veterinary surgeon’s attitude towards the Real Welfare protocol. If the vet was engaged in the process and actively included the farmer, for example through discussion of their findings, the farmers interviewed had a greater appreciation of the benefits of Real Welfare themselves. It is recommended that future similar schemes should work with veterinary surgeons to ensure their understanding and engagement with the process, as well as identifying and promoting how the scheme will practically benefit individual farmers rather than assuming that they will be motivated to engage for the good of the industry alone. Retailers should be encouraged to use Real Welfare as a marketing tool for pig products to enhance the perceived commercial value of this protocol to farmers.
Piglet mortality has a negative impact on animal welfare and public acceptance. Moreover, the number of weaned piglets per sow mainly determines the profitability of piglet production. Increased litter sizes are associated with lower birth weights and piglet survival. Decreased survival rates and performance of piglets make the control of diseases and infections within pig production even more crucial. Consequently, selection for immunocompetence becomes an important key aspect within modern breeding programmes. However, the phenotypic recording of immune traits is difficult and expensive to realize within farm routines. Even though immune traits show genetic variability, only few examples exist on their respective suitability within a breeding programme and their relationships to economically important production traits. The analysis of immune traits for an evaluation of immunocompetence to gain a generally improved immune response is promising. Generally, in-depth knowledge of the genetic background of the immune system is needed to gain helpful insights about its possible incorporation into breeding programmes. Possible physiological drawbacks for enhanced immunocompetence must be considered with regards to the allocation theory and possible trade-offs between the immune system and performance. This review aims to discuss the relationships between the immunocompetence of the pig, piglet survival as well as the potential of these traits to be included into a breeding strategy for improved robustness.
Early life experiences can affect social behaviour in later life, but opportunities for socio-behavioural development are often overlooked in current husbandry practices. This experiment investigated the effects of rearing piglets in two-stage group lactation (GL) system from 7 or 14 days of age on piglet aggression at weaning. Three lactation housing treatments were applied to a total of 198 piglets from 30 litters of multiparous sows. All dams farrowed in standard farrowing crates (FCs). Group lactation litters were transferred with their dam at 7 (GL7) or 14 days (GL14) postpartum to GL pens (one pen of five sows at 8.4 m2/sow and one pen of seven sows at 8.1 m2/sow, per GL treatment). Farrowing crate litters remained with their dam in a single litter until weaning. At weaning, 10 to 14 piglets from two unfamiliar litters from the same housing treatment were mixed into pens (n=5 pens/treatment) and their behaviour was continuously recorded for 3.5 h. For each pen, the frequency of aggressive bouts (reciprocal and non-reciprocal aggression lasting <5 s), the frequency and duration of fights (reciprocal aggression lasting ⩾5 s) and bullying events (non-reciprocal aggression lasting ⩾5 s) were recorded, along with whether interactions involved familiar or unfamiliar piglets. Aggressive bouts delivered by FC piglets were approximately 1.5 and 3.0 times more frequent than that delivered by GL7 and GL14 piglets, respectively (40.5, 16.7 and 9.9 bouts/pig, respectively; P<0.05). Fighting was more frequent (1.6, 0.3 and 0.4 fights/pig, respectively; P<0.001) and fights were longer (83, 15 and 32 s fight/pig, respectively; P<0.001) between FC piglets than between GL7 or GL14 piglets. Bullying did not differ between housing treatments (P>0.05). GL7 and GL14 piglets engaged in a similar number of fights with unfamiliar as familiar piglets, but FC piglets had almost three times as many fights with unfamiliar than with familiar piglets (P<0.05). This experiment confirms the benefits of GL housing for pig social development. Further investigation is required to determine whether mixing before 14 days postpartum has implications for other indicators of animal welfare and productivity in a two-stage GL housing system.
Nutritional strategies to mitigate the negative effects of heat stress on animal welfare and productivity often involve changes in ration formulation. However, cattle commonly sort their ration in favour of certain components, and it is not clear how feed sorting responds to heat stress. This study investigated the association between heat stress and feed sorting behaviour. Lactating Holstein dairy cows (n = 32; parity = 2.8±1.2; mean±SD) were housed in a free stall barn and milked 3×/day. Cows were fed individually using the Calan Broadbent Feeding System and offered ad libitum access to a total mixed ration (containing on a dry matter basis: 3.3% ryegrass hay, 16.5% ryegrass baleage, 24.7% corn silage, 11.1% brewers grains, 19.7% ground corn, 19.8% concentrate and 4.9% protein/mineral supplement), provided 1×/day. Beginning at 186±60 days in milk, cows were exposed to either: heat stress conditions (HT; n = 15) (average temperature–humidity index: 77.6), or evaporative cooling (CL; n = 17), consisting of misters and fans over the freestall and feed bunks. Data were collected during a 4-day baseline period, and two 4-day experimental periods: starting at 10 days after implementing treatments (defined as acute heat stress for HT cows), and at 62 days after implementing treatments (defined as chronic heat stress for HT cows). Daily feed intake and physiological responses to heat stress (body temperature, respiration rate) were recorded. Samples of fresh and refused feed were collected daily from individual cows for particle size analysis. The particle size separator had three screens (19, 8 and 1.18 mm) and a bottom pan, resulting in 4 fractions (long, medium, short and fine particles). Feed sorting was calculated as the actual intake of each particle size fraction expressed as a percentage of the predicted intake of that fraction. During both heat stress periods, HT cows sorted for long particles more than CL cows (105.0% v. 100.6%; SE = 1.1). During acute heat stress, HT cows sorted to a greater extent than CL cows against medium and short particles, whereas sorting of these fractions did not differ during chronic heat stress. Body temperature and respiration rate were associated across treatments with the extent of sorting for long particles and against short particles during acute heat stress. These results suggest that feed sorting is particularly influenced during acute heat stress, and that sorting for longer particles may increase in heat stress.
Temporary crating may be a more acceptable housing system for lactating sows than permanent crating and loose-housing because it combines benefits of both systems while reducing some of their limitations. It remains unclear whether nursing and sucking behaviour is influenced after crate opening. The aim of this study was to assess the short- (24 h post-crate opening) and long-term (day 25 postpartum (pp.)) effects of opening the farrowing crate from day 3 pp. to weaning on nursing and suckling behaviour. Sows were crated from 5 days prepartum either to weaning (permanently crated group; n = 14) or 3 days pp. (temporarily crated group; n = 13). Sows and their litters were observed on days 4 and 25. Duration of pre- and post-massages, nursing termination, number of piglets missing milk ejection and number of piglets fighting during pre- and post-massages were scored at 15-s intervals. Nursing success (i.e. with or without milk ejection) was also recorded. Data were analysed using PROC GLM and PROC GENMOD of SAS including housing, litter size and parity as fixed effects. Nursing behaviour did not differ between sows housed in temporary crates and those housed in permanent crates on days 4 and 25 pp., that is, same number of nutritive nursings (NNs), same proportion of non-NNs, same duration of post-massages and same proportion of termination of post-massages. There was only a housing effect on day 25; with sows having longer pre-massages in permanent crates (P < 0.05). Suckling behaviour was overall similar between treatments. There were no differences in the number of piglets attending pre- and post-massages, proportion of piglets fighting during pre-and post-massages and the proportion of piglets missing milk ejection on both days. The only housing effect was found on day 25 during which fewer piglets attended post-massages (P < 0.05) in permanent crates. Sows with larger litters terminated post-massages more often (P < 0.05), allowed shorter post-massages (P < 0.05) on day 4, and had more piglets miss milk ejection on days 4 and 25 (P < 0.05). In conclusion, the results of this study showed that housing had a very limited effect on nursing and suckling behaviour. Sow and piglet behaviours were not altered after crate opening (short-term effect) and nursing was to some extent calmer (shorter pre-massages and more piglets attended post-massages) in temporary crates on day 25. Increased litter size impaired nursing and suckling behaviour of sows and piglets independently of the housing system.
The current study describes the results obtained from clinical examination of over 4700 suckling piglets from 19 individual herds in Germany. In this cohort the prevalence of inflammation and necrosis in the tails, ears, claw coronary bands, heels and teats was determined using a pre-defined scoring system. Results show that already in the 1st days of life, piglets were affected by inflammation and necrosis of the heels (80%), claw coronary bands (50%) and tail base (20%). The praevalences of these alterations in piglets were influenced by genetics (P <0.001) and age, decreasing gradually in the 2nd week of life (P <0.001). Moreover, a correlation between tail length after tail docking and the prevalence of tail necrosis (P⩽0.04) was found. Tail and ear biting as a behavioural trait was not detected during this study. The early onset, appearance and multiple locations of clinical signs of inflammation and the positive correlation with the genetic background of the piglets may suggest an impairment of the innate immune system by infectious and non-infectious agents. This is in contrast to previously described behavioural abnormalities seen in fattening pigs. Considering the obvious reduction of animal welfare due to the described lesions, there is a need to create awareness among pig farmers and to understand the multifactorial causality involved in this inflammation and necrosis syndrome in piglets.
Tear staining (TS) in the pig has been related to different stressors and may be a useful tool for assessing animal welfare on farm. The aim of the current study was to investigate TS across the finisher period and its possible relation to age, growth, sex and experimentally induced stressors. The study included 80 finisher pens divided between three batches. Within each batch, the pens either included pigs with docked or undocked tails, had straw provided (150 g/pig/day) or not and had a low (1.21 m2/pig, 11 pigs) or high stocking density (0.73 m2/pig, 18 pigs). Tear staining (scores 1 to 4; from smaller to larger tear stain area, respectively) and tail damage were scored on each individual pig three times per week over the 9-week study period, and the individual maximum TS score within each week was chosen for further analysis. Data were analysed using logistic regression separately for each of the four possible TS score levels. The TS scores 1 and 2 decreased with weeks into the study period and were negatively related to the average daily gain (ADG) of the pigs, whereas the TS score 4 increased with weeks into the study period and was positively related to ADG. None of the TS scores differed between females and castrated males, and neither straw provision nor lowering the stocking density affected the TS scores. However, the TS score 1 decreased the last week before an event of tail damage (at least one pig in the pen with a bleeding tail wound), whereas the TS score 4 increased. The results of the current study advocates for a relation between TS and the factors such as age, growth and stress in the pig, while no relation was found between TS and the environmental factors straw provision and lowered stocking density. The relations to age and growth are important to take into consideration if using TS as a welfare assessment measure in the pig in the future.
Bedding material is an important requirement of floor-based poultry production systems to meet the health and welfare requirements. This substrate can be an organic material like wood or plant-based material or inorganic material like clay and sand and should generally be a good absorbant, easily available, comfortable and nontoxic to birds. Wood is an organic renewable resource having good humidity regulation and antimicrobial properties and its by-products are commonly used as poultry litter in many countries. For example, in France, wood-based bedding is used in 80% of turkey production. This litter has approximately 50% lower NH3 production compared to other materials like sand and hulls, and has multiple environment-friendly disposal options. Moreover, the birds grown on such litter show better health and welfare and they prefer to practice their natural behaviours on this material which is helpful for the amelioration of physiological status and reduction of locomotion injuries. Moreover, according to some studies, the birds show improvement in different performance parameters, for example, up to 5-7% improvement in daily weight gain, live body weight, feed conversion ratio (FCR) and survivability. These improvements may differ depending upon the production system and type of wood material used in experiments, still it can be concluded that wood-based bedding materials do not negatively affect the production potential of poultry. In addition, the antimicrobial potential of wood may help to counter the load of certain pathogens in environment of birds. This review describes the physiochemical properties of wood-based bedding materials and their role in production and welfare of poultry.
Wooden breast myopathy, a condition where broiler breast muscles show a hardened consistency post-mortem, has been described recently. However, it is not known how wooden breast myopathy affects the bird activity or welfare. Altogether, over 340 birds of five commonly used commercial hybrids were housed in 25 pens, and sample birds killed at ages of 22, 32, 36, 39 and 43 days. Their breast muscle condition was assessed post-mortem by palpation. The birds were gait scored and their latency to lie was measured before killing. For further behavior observations, one affected and healthy bird in 12 pens were followed on 5 days for 20 minutes using video recordings. The connection of myopathy to gait score and activity was analyzed with mixed models. A higher gait score of wooden-breast-affected birds than that of unaffected birds (2.9 ± 0.1 v. 2.6 ± 0.1, P < 0.05) indicated a higher level of locomotor difficulties over all age groups. The wooden-breast-affected birds had fewer crawling or movement bouts while lying down compared with unaffected (P < 0.05). Wooden breast myopathy-affected birds were heavier (2774 ± 91 v. 2620 ± 91 g; P < 0.05) and had higher breast muscle yield (21 ± 1 v. 19 ± 1%; P < 0.05) than unaffected birds overall. Older birds had longer lying bouts, longer total lying time, fewer walking bouts, more difficulties to walk and to stand compared with younger birds (P < 0.05). Birds with poorer gait had longer total lying time and fewer walking bouts (P < 0.05). Birds with greatest breast muscle yield had the largest number of lying bouts (P < 0.05). It was concluded that wooden breast myopathy was associated with an impairment of gait scores, and may thus be partly linked to the common walking abnormalities in broilers.
Tail biting in pigs is a serious welfare problem with multifactorial causes. Several risk factors are described in the literature ranging from environmental factors including stocking densities, deficiencies in feed quality or accessibility, to internal factors such as poor health status, genetics or sex. Also, the human–animal relationship can have an effect on behaviour and performance of the animals. Thus, the aim of the current study was to evaluate whether intensified human–animal interaction in the rearing period can reduce the occurrence of tail biting in weaned piglets. For this, two treatment groups were established. The trial group differed only in intensified human–animal interaction (e.g. calm speech, petting, food provision) from the control group, which was carried out three times a week by one person for 15 min in each pen. Once a week the animals’ tails were scored regarding tail lesions and losses and a human approach test was performed. The intensified human–animal interaction influenced the animals’ behaviour towards the human as well as towards their pen mates. The trial group showed significantly better results compared with the control group, i.e. fewer tail lesions and more animals with intact tails. Also, the results of the human approach test in the trial group showed a lower latency to approach compared with the control group. Thus, integration of an intensified human–animal interaction into the daily practice of pig farms could be one possibility for enhancing the human–animal relationship and reducing occurrence of tail biting.
Group housing of gestating sows benefits their welfare by allowing them freedom of movement and the opportunity for social interaction. However, social life could also bring disadvantages for individuals who receive direct aggression or are displaced from the feeder. The aim of this study was to investigate associations between social behaviour, body condition and live weight. Gestating sows (n=298) were investigated on a commercial farm. Sows were housed in mixed parity groups where two single space, ad libitum trough feeders served 12 animals. Sows were weighed, body condition scored and had their back fat layer measured at mixing, 4 weeks after insemination and again before farrowing. Social status was estimated based on the numbers of won and lost agonistic interactions at mixing and at the end of gestation. In addition, tear staining was scored before the farrowing and reproductive performance data were collected. With the aid of video recordings, 100 to 150 interactions per group were observed. Winning percentage at mixing and at the end of gestation were associated (P<0.05) and appeared relatively stable within individuals. Tear staining scores and litter sizes were not associated with winning percentage at the end of gestation. However, live weight, relative weight, body condition and back fat thickness were associated with winning percentage (P<0.05), giving heavier animals an advantage. Low winning percentage related to lower live weight gain, probably due to poorer success in competition for feed. Live weight within a mixed parity group could be used as a proxy measure for social status. Sows with low body condition score and submissive sows might need special attention with regard to group dynamics and housing to alleviate the effects of competition in group housing.
The U.S. livestock industry is increasingly faced with pressure to adjust practices in response to societal concerns—specifically related to farm animal welfare. Using best-worst scaling, we determine which practices the U.S. public and cow-calf producers view as the most effective and most practical practices to improve beef cattle welfare. Latent class models are used to understand heterogeneity within and across the public and producers. Fresh, clean feed and water was viewed by most groups as both effective and practical. Furthermore, castrate with pain control and dehorn with pain control were seen as the least effective and practical practices.