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Cattle behaviours and stockperson actions related to impaired animal welfare at Swedish slaughter plants

Hultgren, Jan and Wiberg, Sofia Elisabet and Berg, Charlotte and Cvek, Katarina and Lunner Kolstrup, Christina (2014). Cattle behaviours and stockperson actions related to impaired animal welfare at Swedish slaughter plants. Applied animal behaviour science. 152, 23-37
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2013.12.005

Abstract

At a slaughter plant, cattle are sometimes exposed to rough handling which may reduce animal welfare (AW). In an observational study at four Swedish commercial slaughter plants, AW-related behaviours of cattle and actions of abattoir stockpersons handling the same animals were recorded simultaneously. The objective was to estimate the occurrence of different behaviours and actions related to negative AW during driving and stunning at large-scale cattle abattoirs, assess associations between such behaviours and actions, and analyse differences between plants and animal categories (dairy cows, beef cows, adult bulls and heifers/bullocks). Direct continuous observations of focal animals were made using laptops either in a section of the driving race to the stun box (132 animals) or in the stun box (313 animals), generating a total of 14.5 h of observations. The animals were stunned using a penetrating captive bolt gun or a rifle. Counts per animal of 14 behaviours and 16 stockperson actions were calculated. Sixteen percent of the observed animals displayed total behaviour counts >5 in the driving race, and 2% did so in the stun box; 32 and 8% of the observed animals received total counts >5 of stockperson actions in the race and stun box, respectively. We estimated that two-thirds of the animals were processed without displaying/receiving any of the behaviours/actions associated with severely negative AW. AW scores were acquired by adding together all observed behaviour counts (and action counts, separately) weighted by expert-assessed ratings denoting the degree of impaired AW. Spearman rank correlation was used to analyse associations between behaviour counts, action counts and AW scores. Only three moderate to strong correlations (ρ ≥ 0.4, P ≤ 0.001) between single behaviours/actions were found (“slapping rear” and “slapping front”; “prodding” and “shouting”; and “prodding” and “beating rear” in the driving race). The correlation between AW scores based on behaviours and actions was statistically significant but rather weak both in the driving race (ρ = 0.37, P < 0.0001) and stun box (ρ = 0.22, P = 0.0002). The effects of slaughter plant and animal category on behaviour counts and AW scores were estimated using standard or zero-inflated negative-binomial regression. The risks of most behaviours related to negative AW differed considerably between plants. In the stun box, adult bulls had a 2.5 times higher risk of “struggling-kicking” (P = 0.016) and a 2.0 times higher risk of displaying “backing-turning” (P = 0.016) than had dairy cows, indicating poorer welfare for the bulls.

Authors/Creators:Hultgren, Jan and Wiberg, Sofia Elisabet and Berg, Charlotte and Cvek, Katarina and Lunner Kolstrup, Christina
Title:Cattle behaviours and stockperson actions related to impaired animal welfare at Swedish slaughter plants
Series/Journal:Applied animal behaviour science (0168-1591)
Year of publishing :2014
Volume:152
Page range:23-37
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0168-1591
Language:English
Publication Type:Journal article
Refereed:Yes
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Accepted version
Full Text Status:Public
Agris subject categories.:L Animal production > L01 Animal husbandry
L Animal production > L20 Animal ecology
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 402 Animal and Dairy Science > Animal and Dairy Science.
Agrovoc terms:Abbatoirs, Cattle, Slaughterhouses, Stunning
Keywords:abattoir, cattle, driving, human-animal interaction, slaughterhouse, stockperson, stunning
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-e-1823
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-e-1823
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1016/j.applanim.2013.12.005
ID Code:11076
Faculty:LTV - Fakulteten för landskapsarkitektur, trädgårds- och växtproduktionsvetenskap
VH - Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science
Department:(LTJ, LTV) > Department of Work Science, Business Economics, and Environmental Psychology
(VH) > Dept. of Animal Environment and Health
(VH) > Dept. of Clinical Sciences
External funders:FORMAS
Deposited By: Jan Hultgren
Deposited On:21 Mar 2014 14:13
Metadata Last Modified:10 Dec 2014 09:07

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