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  • Nordgreen, Janicke; Edwards, Sandra A.; Boyle, Laura Ann; Bolhuis, J. Elizabeth; Veit, Christina; Sayyari, Amin; Marin, Daniela E.; Dimitrov, Ivan; Janczak, Andrew M.; Valros, Anna (2020)
    Sickness can change our mood for the worse, leaving us sad, lethargic, grumpy and less socially inclined. This mood change is part of a set of behavioral symptoms called sickness behavior and has features in common with core symptoms of depression. Therefore, the physiological changes induced by immune activation, for example following infection, are in the spotlight for explaining mechanisms behind mental health challenges such as depression. While humans may take a day off and isolate themselves until they feel better, farm animals housed in groups have only limited possibilities for social withdrawal. We suggest that immune activation could be a major factor influencing social interactions in pigs, with outbreaks of damaging behavior such as tail biting as a possible result. The hypothesis presented here is that the effects of several known risk factors for tail biting are mediated by pro-inflammatory cytokines, proteins produced by the immune system, and their effect on neurotransmitter systems. We describe the background for and implications of this hypothesis.
  • Maksimovic, Milica; Vekovischeva, Olga Y.; Aitta-aho, Teemu; Korpi, Esa R. (2014)
  • Niemi, Jarkko K.; Edwards, Sandra A.; Papanastasiou, Dimitris K.; Piette, Deborah; Stygar, Anna H.; Wallenbeck, Anna; Valros, Anna (2021)
    Tail biting is an important animal welfare issue in the pig sector. Studies have identified various risk factors which can lead to biting incidents and proposed mitigation measures. This study focused on the following seven key measures which have been identified to affect the risk of tail biting lesions: improvements in straw provision, housing ventilation, genetics, stocking density, herd health, provision of point-source enrichment objects, and adoption of early warning systems. The aim of this study was to examine whether these selected measures to reduce the risk of tail biting lesions in pig fattening are cost-effective. The problem was analyzed by first summarizing the most prospective interventions, their costs and expected impacts on the prevalence of tail biting lesions, second, by using a stochastic bio-economic model to simulate the financial return per pig space unit and per pig at different levels of prevalence of tail biting lesions, and third by looking at how large a reduction in tail biting lesions would be needed at different levels of initial prevalence of lesions to cover the costs of interventions. Tail biting lesions of a severity which would require an action (medication, hospitalization of the pig or other care, or taking preventive measures) by the pig producer were considered in the model. The results provide guidance on the expected benefits and costs of the studied interventions. According to the results, if the average prevalence of tail biting lesions is at a level of 10%, the costs of this damaging behavior can be as high as euro2.3 per slaughtered pig (similar to 1.6% of carcass value). Measures which were considered the least expensive to apply, such as provision of point-source enrichment objects, or provided wider production benefits, such as improvements in ventilation and herd health, became profitable at a lower level of efficacy than measures which were considered the most expensive to apply (e.g., straw provision, increased space allowance, automated early warning systems). Measures which were considered most efficient in reducing the risk of tail biting lesions, such as straw provision, can be cost-effective in preventing tail biting, especially when the risk of tail biting is high. At lower risk levels, the provision of point-source objects and other less costly but relatively effective measures can play an important role. However, selection of measures appropriate to the individual farm problem is essential. For instance, if poor health or barren pens are causing the elevated risk of tail biting lesions, then improving health management or enriching the pens may resolve the tail biting problem cost-effectively.
  • Yaripour, Sareh; Kekalainen, Jukka; Hyvarinen, Pekka; Kaunisto, Sirpa; Piironen, Jorma; Vainikka, Anssi; Koljonen, Marja-Liisa; Koskiniemi, Jarmo; Kortet, Raine (2020)
    Enriched rearing has been demonstrated to shape the phenotype of hatchery-reared salmonids and improve their post-release survival in the wild, thus having an important applied value in conservation. However, it is unclear if rearing conditions or survival selection during the early life stages induce long-term fitness effects on adult phenotypes. Using a paired full-sib set-up, we investigated the influence of the environmental enrichment at the egg and fry stages on the milt quality and skin colouration of the adult brown trout (Salmo trutta L.). Overall, males had a higher number of skin spots than females. Notably, the total numbers of spots and black spots were significantly lower in fish raised in an enriched environment than in their full siblings reared in a conventional hatchery environment. However, neither sperm motility nor sperm swimming behaviour differed between full sib males reared in different environments. Our results suggest that rearing method may shape the colouration of brown trout, either by ecological carry-over effects or by selective survival during the rearing process. This, in turn, indicates that ecological conditions at early life can have long-prevailing phenotypically plastic or microevolutionary effects on the adult traits of fish. These effects should be taken into consideration to better understand the ecological role of rearing methodology in salmonid conservation.
  • Ahola, Milla K.; Vapalahti, Katariina; Lohi, Hannes (2017)
    Behaviour problems are common in companion felines, and problematic behaviour may be a sign of chronic stress. In laboratory animals, early weaning increases the risk for aggression, anxiety, and stereotypic behaviour. However, very few studies have focused on early weaning in one of the world's most popular pets, the domestic cat, although weaning soon after the critical period of socialisation is common practice. To study the effects of early weaning (<12 weeks) on behaviour, a large data set (N = 5726, 40 breeds) was collected from home-living domestic cats through a questionnaire survey. The results show that weaning before 8 weeks of age increases the risk for aggression, but not fearful behaviour. Moreover, cats weaned after 14 weeks of age have a lower probability for aggression towards strangers than early weaned cats and a lower probability for stereotypic behaviour (excessive grooming) than cats weaned at 12 weeks. The effect of weaning age on stereotypic behaviour is partially explained by the effects on aggression. These findings indicate that early weaning has a detrimental effect on behaviour, and suggest delayed weaning as a simple and inexpensive approach to significantly improve the welfare of millions of domestic cats.
  • Richter, S. Helene; Garner, Joseph P.; Zipser, Benjamin; Lewejohann, Lars; Sachser, Norbert; Touma, Chadi; Schindler, Britta; Chourbaji, Sabine; Brandwein, Christiane; Gass, Peter; van Stipdonk, Niek; van der Harst, Johanneke; Spruijt, Berry; Voikar, Vootele; Wolfer, David P.; Wuerbel, Hanno (2011)
  • Valros, Anna; Pedersen, Lene Juul; Pöytäkangas, Merja; Jensen, Margit Bak (2017)
    There are very few studies on the need to perform exploratory behaviour of sows around farrowing and during lactation, except for during the nest-building period. Exploratory behaviour in pigs may reflect appetitive foraging motivated by hunger, or appetitive behaviour related to other motivations, such as nest building. However, exploration may also be motivated by curiosity, stimulated by novelty or search for novelty. The aim of this study was to test novel methods of evaluating exploratory motivation in sows around farrowing and during lactation. We used ten second or third parity sows, housed in conventional crates from day 8 before expected farrowing until weaning, on day 28 after farrowing. Motivation to perform exploratory behaviour was evaluated by measuring the use of a manipulable and chewable object (a wooden device, MCO) and responses during a novel object test (NO). In addition, we studied if exploratory motivation is related to the energy status of the sow, measured as sow weight change during lactation, piglet weight gain, and leptin level in saliva. The exploratory motivation of sows appeared to change during the period of study. Although all sows used the MCO, the use was very low throughout the study (below 3 g per day on average), and almost non-existent during the first weeks after farrowing. The latency to touch the object in the NO test was correlated between test days before and after farrowing, while the sow showed more interest in the object before than after farrowing. MCO use during the last week of lactation was higher in sows with a lower weight after weaning, suggesting a link between explorative motivation and energy status in the sow. These results indicate a need for further studies on how to best meet the possible exploratory need of sows during their time in the farrowing room.
  • Gonda, Maria Abigel; Herczeg, Gabor; Merilä, Juha (2013)
  • EFSA Panel Anim Hlth Welf AHAW; Nielsen, Soren Saxmose; Sihvonen, Liisa Helena (2020)
    The AGRI committee of the European Parliament requested EFSA to assess the welfare of rabbits farmed in different production systems, including organic production, and to update its 2005 scientific opinion about the health and welfare of rabbits kept for meat production. Considering reproducing does, kits and growing rabbits, this scientific opinion focusses on six different housing systems, namely conventional cages, structurally enriched cages, elevated pens, floor pens, outdoor/partially outdoor systems and organic systems. To compare the level of welfare in the different housing systems and rabbit categories, welfare impact scores for 20 welfare consequences identified from the literature were calculated, taking their occurrence, duration and severity into account. Based on the overall welfare impact score (sum of scores for the single welfare consequences), obtained via a 2-step expert knowledge elicitation process, the welfare of reproducing does is likely (certainty 66-90%) to be lower in conventional cages compared to the five other housing systems. In addition, it is likely to extremely likely (certainty 66-99%) that the welfare of kits is lower in outdoor systems compared to the other systems and that the welfare is higher in elevated pens than in the other systems. Finally, it is likely to extremely likely (certainty 66-99%) that the welfare of growing rabbits is lower in conventional cages compared to the other systems and that the welfare is higher in elevated pens than in the other systems. Ranking of the welfare consequences allowed an analysis of the main welfare consequences within each system and rabbit category. It was concluded that for reproducing does, as well as growing rabbits, welfare consequences related to behavioural restrictions were more prominent in conventional cages, elevated pens and enriched cages, whereas those related to health problems were more important in floor pens, outdoor and organic systems. Housing in organic rabbit farming is diverse, which can result in different welfare consequences, but the overall welfare impact scores suggest that welfare in organic systems is generally good. (C) 2020 European Food Safety Authority. EFSA Journal published by John Wiley and Sons Ltd on behalf of European Food Safety Authority.
  • Castren, Eero; Hen, Rene (2013)
  • Telkanranta, Helena; Valros, Anna (2020)
    In barren environments of commercial farms, pig often redirect their rooting and chewing behaviours at other pigs, which can lead to tail biting. When materials such as straw are provided, the quantity is usually too small to have an effect. The aim of this study was to test whether small provisions of straw and species-relevant point- source objects would have an additive effect in reducing pen-mate manipulation. The animals were 167 gilts with undocked tails on a commercial farm in Finland, housed in 12-m2 pens with partly slatted floors, on average 7 pigs/pen. Liquid feed and 20 g/pig of long straw were provided once a day. The pigs had continuous access to suspended objects: in each control pen (N =12), a 40cm ×10cm ×2 cm piece of commercially sourced wooden board and a 60-cm metal chain, and in each experimental pen (N =12), an 80-cm piece and two 40-cm pieces of birch trees with a diameter of 5–7 cm, harvested 1 month earlier. After 2 months of exposure, frequencies of pig- and object-directed manipulation before and after consuming the feed and straw were recorded by continuous observation on video. Pre-consumption pig-directed manipulation did not differ between the treatments (means: 39.3 events/pig/hour (SD =11.7) in the experimental pens and 42.1 events/pig/hour (SD =12.1) in the control pens; t =-0.6, df =21, P >0.1), but post-consumption manipulation was significantly lower in frequency in the experimental treatment (means: 31.5 events/pig/hour (SD =10.4) in the experimental pens and 41.0 events/ pig/hour (SD =8.6) in the control pens; t =2.4, df =21, P <0.05). Object-directed manipulation was higher in the experimental treatment both pre- and post-consumption (pre-consumption medians: 9.7 events/pig/hour (min =2.0, max =14.9) in the experimental pens and 3.1 events/pig/hour (min =0.9, max =13.7) in the control pens (U =18.5, P <0.01); post-consumption means: 9.2 events/hour/pig (SD =2.7) in the experimental pens and 4.8 events/pig/hour (SD =2.0) in the control pens (t =4.5, df =20, P <0.001). It was concluded that the experimental objects with improved material, quantity, shape and location had an additive effect with straw in reducing pen-mate manipulation, whereas objects ordinarily used on the farm had no beneficial effect. Further research is needed on the effects of the odour, taste and consistency of optimal objects.