Browsing by Subject "animal welfare"

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  • Aromaa, M.; Rajamäki, M. M.; Lilja-Maula, L. (2021)
    To promote successful breeding against brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), it is important to assess how BOAS signs progress during young adulthood and how evaluation age and ageing affect the results of chosen breeding selection tools. The aims of this study were to assess how veterinary-assessed and owner-reported BOAS signs and exercise test results change when dogs age. Eight English Bulldogs, 25 French Bulldogs, and 31 Pugs that had undergone previous evaluation were re-examined 2- 3 years later. An owner questionnaire regarding BOAS signs, a veterinary assessment of BOAS severity, and exercise, ie walk tests were re-performed. In Pugs, both 6-min walking distance and 1,000-m time worsened and the initial evaluation age had a significant effect on the 1,000-m time. No significant changes were seen in the results of the French Bulldogs but a negative effect on the 1,000-m time was seen with weight gain. Exercise test statistics were not performed with regard to English Bulldogs due to low sample size. The veterinary-assessed BOAS severity class remained the same in the majority of dogs and the BOAS grade worsened mostly in those dogs that were initially evaluated at less than two years of age. Most owners reported no major changes in BOAS severity. BOAS grading and walk tests were easy to repeat and results remained relatively constant in dogs initially evaluated at over two years of age, supporting the use of these breeding selection tools. However, further, large-scale offspring studies are still needed.
  • Valtonen, Elli-Marja Inkeri; Koskela, Tarja; Valros, Anna; Hänninen, Laura (2021)
    An increasing proportion of animal welfare violations in Finland are related to companion animals. However, only a small number of these issues are investigated or prosecuted. The aims of this study were (i) to describe the inspection findings and the resulting actions of the official municipal veterinarians in the Finnish Capital Region and (ii) to identify the factors that predict their submissions of investigation requests to the police. Our data consisted of animal welfare complaints and official veterinarians' inspection reports and decisions from 811 cases of animal welfare control in the Finnish Capital Region. The data covered the period from March 2019 to April 2020. We performed logistic regression analyses to identify the factors that best predict when official veterinarians detect non-compliances and report the cases for police investigation. In 86% (696/811) of the cases, the veterinarians performed at least one animal welfare inspection, and/or received information from the police, or otherwise investigated the complaint. The most common forms of non-compliance were lack of basic maintenance and care (42%, 295/696) and insufficient veterinary care (27%, 185/696). The veterinarians requested for a police investigation in 9.6% (44/460) of all cases with detected non-compliances. The best predictors for detecting non-compliances with the animal welfare legislation were complaints of insufficient veterinary care (OR 1.9, CI 1.1-3.4), the cases assessed by the information from the police and/or an animal shelter (OR 15.2, CI 7.9-29.2), at least one inspection in an animal's premises with prior warning (OR 11.2, CI 5.5-22.6), and without prior warning (OR 17.0, CI 9.7-29.5). Complaints of violence against animals were negatively associated with detecting non-compliances (OR 0.5, CI 0.3-0.9). However, the detection of violence against animals predicted requests for police investigations (OR 9.3, CI 3.1-27.9), as did the execution of permanent urgent measures by official veterinarians (OR 4.9, CI 1.9-12.9). To improve the animal welfare control system and the investigation of crimes against animals, cooperation between officials should be developed. Further studies are needed to improve the understanding of the prevalence of violence against animals, and to advance methods used by animal welfare control to identify cases of violence.
  • Väärikkälä, Sofia Susanna; Hänninen, Laura Talvikki; Nevas, Mari Anne (2019)
    Simple Summary Official on-farm inspections are carried out throughout the European Union every year to ensure farm compliance with animal welfare standards. The aim of this study was to analyze Finnish inspection data in order to find out how well cattle and pig farms comply with animal welfare standards, to reveal the most common non-compliances and to identify possible farm risk factors. About every fourth inspected Finnish cattle and pig farm did not comply with the animal welfare standards. Examples of factors that increased the risk of non-compliance were small herd size, tie-stall housing and outdoor rearing. Inadequate lying area in cattle farms and a lack of enrichment material in pig farms were the most common non-compliances. The regional differences found may indicate differences in inspectors' interpretations or ways in conducting inspections. As the official inspection reports contain valuable information about the welfare problems on farms, the reports should be better utilized in risk analysis, in targeting farmer education, and in making the inspections more uniform. Abstract The competent authorities of the Member States of the European Union are required to perform animal welfare inspections on livestock farms. The data obtained from these official inspections performed in Finnish cattle and pig farms in 2010-2015 were used with the aim of estimating the prevalence of the most common non-compliances and identifying underlying risk factors. The prevalence of non-compliant cattle and pig farms was 24.2% and 27.9%, respectively. In cattle, the most common problem was an inadequate lying area followed by deficient housing conditions for calves; in pigs, it was a lack of enrichment material. The non-compliances concerning cattle were most frequently detected in autumn and in farms with small herd size, with tie-stall housing and outdoor rearing year-round. The pig farms with a farrow-to-finish unit had a higher prevalence of non-compliances than other production types. The prevalence of the non-compliant farms differed notably between the regions. It can be concluded that the cattle welfare inspections should be performed with a focus on the cold and rainy seasons and at small farms, whereas the pig welfare inspections should mainly focus on farrow-to-finish units. The data received from official inspections should be efficiently utilized in the development of animal welfare inspection system, with the aim of risk-based, consistent and uniform inspections. In addition, the data should be utilized in targeting information for farmers.
  • Aromaa, M.; Lilja-Maula, L.; Rajamäki, M. M. (2019)
    Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) is a major welfare problem in short-nosed breeds, such as the French Bulldog and Pug. In addition to respiratory difficulties, exercise intolerance and impaired recovery are major signs of BOAS. To select healthier breeding animals, exercise tolerance tests, such as the 1,000-m walk test, are already used in several countries for brachycephalic dogs, although evidence supporting their use is still scarce. The aims of this study were to assess the daily welfare of young, breeding-age French Bulldogs (n = 44) and Pugs (n = 51) using an owner questionnaire, and to evaluate 6-min walk test (6MWT) and 1,000-m walk test usability for differentiation between non-or mildly BOAS-affected dogs and more severely affected dogs. Only four out of 95 French Bulldog and Pug owners reported that the BOAS signs limited the daily activities of their dogs. However, according to the physical, examination-based veterinary BOAS grading, 31/95 of the dogs had moderate to severe BOAS signs. In both breeds, the more severely affected dogs performed both exercise tests more poorly than those with no or mild BOAS signs. The longer exercise, namely the 1,000-m test, seemed slightly better able at differentiating between affected dogs and less affected ones. The results of this study further support the use of exercise tests as an important part of the breeding selection in French Bulldogs and Pugs. By influencing the breed standards set by Kennel Clubs and by using breeding selection tools, the harmful impacts of brachycephaly can be diminished.
  • Tuomola, Kati; Mäki-Kihniä, Nina; Valros, Anna; Mykkänen, Anna; Kujala-Wirth, Minna (2021)
    Bit-related oral lesions are common and may impair horse welfare. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of oral lesions and their risk factors in a sample of Finnish event horses. The rostral part of the oral cavity (the bit area) of 208 event horses (127 warmbloods, 52 coldbloods, and 29 ponies) was examined in a voluntary inspection after the last competition phase, i.e., the cross-country test. Acute lesions were observed in 52% (109/208) of the horses. The lesion status was graded as no acute lesions for 48% (99/208), mild for 22% (45/208), moderate for 26% (55/208) and severe for 4% (9/208) of the horses. The inner lip commissure was the most common lesion location observed in 39% (81/208) of the horses. A multivariable logistic regression model with data of 174 horses was applied to risk factor analysis. Horses wearing thin (10-13 mm) (OR 3.5, CI 1.4-8.7) or thick (18-22 mm) (OR 3.4, CI 1.4-8.0) bits had a higher risk of moderate/severe lesion status than horses wearing middle-sized (14-17 mm) bits (P = 0.003). Breed was associated with moderate/severe lesion status (P = 0.02). The risk was higher for warmbloods (reference group) and coldbloods (OR 2.0, CI 0.88-4.7) compared with ponies (OR 0.2, CI 0.04-0.87). Mares were at higher risk of moderate/severe lesion status (OR 2.2, CI 1.1-4.5) than geldings (reference group) (P = 0.03). Bar lesions were more common in horses with unjointed bits (40%, 8/20) than with basic double-jointed (10%, 5/52), formed double-jointed (8%, 6/78) or single-jointed bits (5%, 2/40) (Fisher's exact test, P = 0.002). The results of this study suggest that thin and thick bits and mare sex should be considered risk factors for mouth lesions. In addition, in this sample ponies had smaller risk for lesions than other horse breeds. We encourage adopting bit area monitoring as a new routine by horse handlers and as a welfare measure by competition organizers for randomly drawn horses.
  • Norring, Marianna; Valros, Anna Elisabet; Bergman, Paula Susanna; Marchant-Forde, Jeremy; Heinonen, Mari Leena (2019)
    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
  • Heinola, Katriina; Kauppinen, Tiina; Niemi, Jarkko K.; Wallenius, Essi; Raussi, Satu (2021)
    Simple Summary Welfare requirements from an animal point of view are the same regardless of the country. However, differing requirements of animal welfare schemes make it hard for consumers to make informed choices. Therefore, an open and coherent labeling scheme that provides information on farm animal welfare will be beneficial from the consumer perspective. We reviewed 12 pig welfare schemes. We aimed to identify consistencies and differences in welfare requirements between these schemes. The studied welfare requirements were heterogeneous in the potential each scheme had to advance pig welfare. Certain requirements barely exceeded the minimum standards for the protection of pigs in European Union (EU) legislation, but the more demanding tiers of multitier schemes had the potential to enhance animal welfare. The most ambitious tiers could improve animal welfare substantially and, in terms of resources available to the animal, they often were convergent with organic animal farming standards. Because of variation of welfare requirements between the labels, it was challenging to compare existing labeling schemes. Adopting a harmonized labeling terminology and standard, increased use of animal-based measures, and open communication will make labeling more reliable and transparent, which will contribute to the availability of standardized animal-friendly products and will be equitable from an animal welfare perspective. Animal welfare labeling schemes have been developed to respond to consumers' expectations regarding farm animal welfare. They are designed to certify that labeled products comply with certain animal welfare standards. In this study, 12 pig welfare labeling schemes were reviewed, and their criteria related to pig welfare were compared. Information regarding farrowing criteria, space allowance, outdoor access, mutilations, and provision of enrichments and bedding material were gathered from the labels' internet pages and documentation. The results indicated a substantial variation between the labels in terms of the level of animal welfare they ensure. While certain schemes barely exceeded the minimum standards for the protection of pigs in the European Union, more demanding tiers of the multitier schemes had the potential to improve animal welfare substantially. The most ambitious tiers of multistage schemes were often comparable to organic standards providing outdoor facilities and additional space. The heterogeneity of the labels' standards complicates the comparison of labels.
  • Blom, Sonja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    Pain is a subjective feeling often difficult to interpret or study and thus, pain of those unable to communicate their pain is difficult to recognize. According to the new definition of pain by IASP (Raja et al 2020), verbal description is only one of the many behaviours that can be used to express pain, and the inability to communicate pain does not negate the possibility of experiencing it. This addition to the definition points out that non-human animals, too, even if they cannot express it in words, are capable of both experiencing and communicating pain. Can we as humans interpret a state of pain in an animal in a trustworthy way – and in a manner that would be respectful and non-invasive to the animal? Infrared thermography (IRT) is a technology based on using infrared radiation instead of normal light to form images. These images can be used to quantify the surface temperature of an object with high resolution. The intensity of the radiation emitted by the object being imaged depends on the surface temperature and for this reason thermal imaging enables detecting and measuring changes of surface temperature. Pain and stress might manifest physiologically as activation of the autonomic nervous system, which in turn might result in changes in surface temperatures of the body. These changes might be detectable with a thermal camera. If we could establish a link between certain intricate temperature changes of the head area to certain type of activation of the sympathetic nervous system resulting from pain, thermal imaging could have the potential to detect this. In this study I investigated if there were detectable temperature changes in animal patients before and after a standard examination conducted to each patient admitted to the Wildlife Hospital of Helsinki Zoo, where my data was gathered. Another question was whether the patients that had pain differed in their temperature changes as compared to other patients. The question at the heart of my research was whether there would be a change in peripheral facial temperatures of patients before and after the examination. Another question was whether thermal patterns would be different for pain- and non-pain patients. I found that for some parameters, the temperature differences between pain- and non-pain patients were indeed different, for example the crown temperature of birds seemed to change with examination for patients without pain but not for patients with pain. A more prominent finding was that temperatures decrease across many parameters after an examination as compared to prior to it, across all or many patient groups. My research does not univocally show that thermal imaging could be used to detect pain; rather it affirms the thought that the measurement of changes in peripheral temperatures could be a potential window to non-invasively detect some changes of activation of the sympathetic nervous system in animals.
  • Väärikkälä, S.; Artukka, S-M; Hänninen, L.; Nevas, M. (2018)
    The aim of this study was to broaden the understanding of Finnish cattle and pig farmers' perceptions of the on-site animal welfare inspections carried out by official authorities in livestock farms. The study was conducted using an electronic questionnaire, aimed at 500 Finnish cattle and 500 pig farmers. Responses were received from 96 cattle farmers and 105 pig farmers, of which 20 and 55, respectively, had undergone an animal welfare inspection. It was found that most of the farmers recognised the need for animal welfare inspections, but also that a more negative attitude was prevalent among farmers who had undergone these inspections. The inspection itself was a far more negative experience if the farmer had not understood the reason for the inspection, no opportunity existed to be heard, or the findings of the report were found to be unclear. The results suggest that although the farmers generally approve of inspections, their own negative experiences affect their perceptions. Moving forward, efforts should be made by inspectors to enhance the level of communication, thereby ensuring the findings of the report are clear to the farmer.
  • Ternman, Emma; Pastell, Matti; Hänninen, Laura; Agenäs, Sigrid; Nielsen, Per P. (2018)
    In human sleep studies, the probability of discomfort from the electrodes and the change in environment usually results in first-night recordings being discarded. Sleep recordings from the first night in human subjects often differ in amount of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and the overall sleep architecture. This study investigated whether recordings of sleep states in dairy cows also show a first-night effect. Non-invasive electrophysiological recordings were carried out on nine cows of the Swedish Red breed during three consecutive 24-hour periods (recording days 1–3). Overall, cows spent 12.9 ± 1.4 hours awake, 8.2 ± 1 hours ruminating, 57.2 ± 20.3 min drowsing, 44.1 ± 20.2 min in REM sleep and 64.3 ± 38.1 min in NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep (mean ± SD) and there were no significant differences between recording days in total duration for any of the sleep and awake states. However, the bouts of REM sleep and rumination were longer, and the awake bouts were shorter, at night time compared to daytime, regardless of recording day. The awake bouts also showed an interaction effect with longer bouts at daytime during day 1 compared to daytime on day 3. Data on sleep and awake states recorded in adult dairy cows during three consecutive 24-h periods showed great variation in sleep time between cows, but total time for each state was not significantly affected by recording day. Further and more detailed studies of how sleep architecture is affected by recording day is necessary to fully comprehend the first-night effect in dairy cows.
  • 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.
  • Lindertz, Mia (Helsingfors universitet, 2005)
    Hännänpurenta on taloudellisesti merkittävimpiä ongelmia lihasikaloissa. Hännänpurenta on monisyinen olosuhdeongelma, stressioire, joka johtuu sian luontaisten käyttäytymistarpeiden estymisestä. Tällaisia tarpeita ovat tonkiminen, ympäristön tutkiminen kärsän avulla, rypeminen sekä sosiaalisten kontaktien luominen. Tieteellisissä tutkimuksissa on tunnistettu useita altistavia tekijöitä ympäristössä, ruokinnassa ja yksilöllisissä eroissa. Ympäristötekijöistä tärkeimmät altistavat tekijät ovat ritilälattia, suuri ryhmäkoko, ahtaus, veto, huono ilmanvaihto sekä virikkeiden puute. Kuivikkeiden käyttöä pidetään tärkeimpänä ennaltaehkäisevänä tekijänä. Hoidoksi suositellaan sekä uhrin että purijan eristämistä sekä uhrin hoitamista penisilliinillä. Tutkimuksen päätehtävänä on tunnistaa hännänpurennalle altistavia tekijöitä terveydenhuoltoprojektiin osallistuvilla tiloilla. Tutkimus on osa A-tuottajien Euroopan maatalouden tuki- ja ohjausrahaston (EMOTR) rahoittamaa Terveet jalat - ehjä häntä -hanketta. Tilat osallistuivat vapaaehtoisesti projektiin hännänpurennan vähentämiseksi. Aineistona käytettiin Atrian Kuopion teurastamon lihantarkastustietoja vuosilta 2000-2002 sekä tilakäynneillä tehtyjä olosuhdeselvityksiä. Osallistuvista tiloista valittiin 36 tilaa, joilla oli todettu eniten hännänpurenta- ja paisehylkäyksiä. Tilat ryhmiteltiin hylkäysten perusteella kolmeen osaan, joista tutkimusaineiston analyysiin kelpuutettiin ylä- ja alakolmannes (paljon hännänpurentaa ja vähän hännänpurentaa). Näin lopullinen tutkimusaineisto muodostui yhteensä 24 tilasta. Tilakäyntien ja olosuhdeselvitysten avulla vertailtiin "paljon" ja "vähän" ryhmien olosuhteita altistavien tekijöiden tunnistamiseksi. Tilakäyntien tuloksia verrattiin tekijästä riippuen joko vertaamalla ryhmien keskiarvoja tai prosenttiosuuksia keskenään. Tilastollista merkitsevyyttä testattiin Studentin T-testillä, varianssianalyysillä ja khin-neliötestillä. Tilavertailun perusteella tärkeimmiksi altistaviksi tekijöiksi osoittautuivat sopimaton lämpötila (<14 tai >22°C), suuri ryhmäkoko sekä riittämätön valaistus. Altistavia tekijöitä näyttivät myös olevan pieni kaukalotila sekä ritilän suuri osuus lattiasta. Suojaavia tekijöitä näyttivät olevan kuivikkeiden käyttö, lattialämmitys sekä sairaiden sikojen hyvä hoito.
  • Kupsala, Saara (2010)
    In recent years farm animal issues have become increasingly politicised. Consumer concern for farm animal welfare has increased, and there has been a growing demand for alternative livestock products. Organic animal farming has been an important alternative livestock production scheme that has attempted to respond to these growing farm animal welfare concerns. In this research I investigate how the meanings of farm animal welfare are constructed in the discourses of the Finnish Association for Organic Farming (FAOF). FAOF is a national umbrella organisation for societies operating in the organic sector. It is a central player in the societal discussion concerning organic farming and represents organic farmers in public discussion and the policy making arena. This research participates in the discussion of human-animal studies concerning the social meanings of farm animals and the politicisation of animal issues. My aim is to increase understanding concerning the meanings of animal welfare in alternative livestock systems, which have been hitherto subjected to minimal analysis in the sociology of human-animal relations. The most important sources include Adrian Franklin's, Arnold Arluke's and Clinton R. Sander's writings. In addition, I aim to contribute to discussions in organic farming studies concerning the expansion and "conventionalisation" of organic farming as well as the growing business and governmental involvement in the organic sector. The most important sources include Julie Guthman's, Magnus Bostrbm's and Mikael Klintman's writings. I study the meanings of farm animal welfare in FAOF's texts from the theoretical perspective of social constructionism. The data consist of 268 Luomulehti articles, FAOF's documents as well as interviews with five FAOF's representatives and activists. The methodological approach is based on discourse analysis, and I have analysed the data by coding it according to different themes with NVivo software. I argue that there are three main discourses concerning the meanings of animal welfare in organic farming in FAOF's texts: an ideological discourse, a market-oriented discourse and an animal welfare business discourse. In the ideological discourse, organic livestock production is portrayed to be a value-based choice, and stringent animal welfare standards are supported with moral arguments. In the market-oriented discourse, organic livestock production is represented as an economic choice. Organic farming is represented as a respectable and rational form of farming and a certain distance is taken from any kind of "organic ideologism" or "religiousity". This discourse includes a negative attitude toward stringent animal welfare standards on economic grounds. In the animal welfare business discourse, an attempt is made to reconcile the tensions between the ideological discourse and the market-oriented discourse. As in the ideological discourse, high animal welfare standards are supported, but not with moral arguments, but with economic arguments like in the market-oriented discourse. My main thesis is that ideological argumentation has become weaker in FAOF's discourses while market-based argumentation has increased its foothold. This is related to a wider trend of expansion, institutionalisation and "normalisation" in organic farming. As the sector has expanded, it has contained an increasing amount of players who do not share the original ideologies of the organic movement. These actors are approached in a conventional way in FAOF by focusing on the issues of profitability and economics. At the same time FAOF has been increasingly profiled as an interest group for organic farmers rather than an ideological organisation representing a social movement. In this way, FAOF has responded to the growth in the number of market-oriented organic farmers in the organic sector and in its membership generally. In addition, as FAOF has started increasingly discussing standards in the governmental arena, rather than developing its own private standard, it has needed to translate ideology into the language of civil servants and politicians - i.e. into the language of money.
  • Tucker, Cassandra; Jensen, Margit Bak; de Passille, Anne Marie; Hänninen, Laura; Rushen, Jeff (2021)
    Adequate time lying down is often considered an important aspect of dairy cow welfare. We examine what is known about cows’ motivation to lie down and the consequences for health and other indicators of biological function when this behavior is thwarted. We review the environmental and animal-based factors that affect lying time in the context of animal welfare. Cows can be highly motivated to lie down. They show rebound lying behavior after periods of forced standing and will sacrifice other activities, such as feeding, to lie down for an adequate amount of time. They will work, by pushing levers or weighted gates, to lie down and show possible indicators of frustration when lying behavior is thwarted. Some evidence suggests that risk of lameness is increased in environments that provide unfavorable conditions for cows to lie down and cows are forced to stand. Lameness itself can result in longer lying times, whereas mastitis reduces it. Cow-based factors such as reproductive status, age, and milk production influence lying time, but the welfare implications of these differences are unknown. Lower lying times are reported in pasture-based systems, dry lots, and bedded packs (9 h/d) compared with tiestalls and freestalls (10 to 12 h/d) in cross-farm research. Unfavorable conditions, including too few lying stalls for the number of cows, hard or wet lying surfaces, inadequate bedding, stalls that are too small or poorly designed, heat, and rain all reduce lying time. Time constraints, such as feeding or milking, can influence lying time. However, more information is needed about the implications of mediating factors such as the effect of the standing surface (concrete, pasture, or other surfaces) and cow behavior while standing (e.g., being restrained, walking, grazing) to understand the effect of low lying times on animal welfare. Many factors contribute to the difficulty of finding a valid threshold for daily lying time to use in the assessment of animal welfare. Although higher lying times often correspond with cow comfort, and lower lying times are seen in unfavorable conditions, exceptions occur, namely when cows lie down for longer because of disease or when they spend more time standing because of estrus or parturition, or to engage in other behaviors. In conclusion, lying behavior is important to dairy cattle, but caution and a full understanding of the context and the character of the animals in question is needed before drawing firm conclusions about animal welfare from measures of lying time.
  • More, Simon; EFSA Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) (2017)
  • Chapinal, Nuria; de Passille, Anne Marie; Pastell, Matti; Hänninen, Laura; Munksgaard, Lene; Rushen, Jeff (2011)
    The aims were to determine whether measures of acceleration of the legs and back of dairy cows while they walk could help detect changes in gait or locomotion associated with lameness and differences in the walking surface. In 2 experiments, 12 or 24 multiparous dairy cows were fitted with five 3-dimensional accelerometers, 1 attached to each leg and 1 to the back, and acceleration data were collected while cows walked in a straight line on concrete (experiment 1) or on both concrete and rubber (experiment 2). Cows were video-recorded while walking to assess overall gait, asymmetry of the steps, and walking speed. In experiment 1, cows were selected to maximize the range of gait scores, whereas no clinically lame cows were enrolled in experiment 2. For each accelerometer location, overall acceleration was calculated as the magnitude of the 3-dimensional acceleration vector and the variance of overall acceleration, as well as the asymmetry of variance of acceleration within the front and rear pair of legs. In experiment 1, the asymmetry of variance of acceleration in the front and rear legs was positively correlated with overall gait and the visually assessed asymmetry of the steps (r ≥0.6). Walking speed was negatively correlated with the asymmetry of variance of the rear legs (r=−0.8) and positively correlated with the acceleration and the variance of acceleration of each leg and back (r ≥0.7). In experiment 2, cows had lower gait scores [2.3 vs. 2.6; standard error of the difference (SED)=0.1, measured on a 5-point scale] and lower scores for asymmetry of the steps (18.0 vs. 23.1; SED=2.2, measured on a continuous 100-unit scale) when they walked on rubber compared with concrete, and their walking speed increased (1.28 vs. 1.22m/s; SED=0.02). The acceleration of the front (1.67 vs. 1.72g; SED=0.02) and rear (1.62 vs. 1.67g; SED=0.02) legs and the variance of acceleration of the rear legs (0.88 vs. 0.94g; SED=0.03) were lower when cows walked on rubber compared with concrete. Despite the improvements in gait score that occurred when cows walked on rubber, the asymmetry of variance of acceleration of the front leg was higher (15.2 vs. 10.4%; SED=2.0). The difference in walking speed between concrete and rubber correlated with the difference in the mean acceleration and the difference in the variance of acceleration of the legs and back (r ≥0.6). Three-dimensional accelerometers seem to be a promising tool for lameness detection on farm and to study walking surfaces, especially when attached to a leg.
  • Anttila, Mirjami; Raekallio, Marja; Valros, Anna (2022)
    A bit that fits is essential for horse welfare and good communication with the ridden, driven or led horses. The bit causes pressure on the sensitive structures of the horse mouth. The aim of this study was to investigate variation in oral dimensions related to bit fit in adult horses and ponies and to evaluate bit fit by comparing oral dimensions with the currently used bit size selected by the horse owner. The study population consisted of 554 horses and ponies, 308 geldings and 246 mares, age 5-29 years, presented for routine dental care. Oral dimensions: mouth width, distance between upper and lower jaw, tongue thickness and lower jaw width, were measured under sedation. Oral dimensions were compared with the most used bit mouthpiece size presented to the researcher by the owner. Bit type and material were recorded. All oral dimensions in adult horses and ponies varied by breed and sex. Mouth width and distance between upper and lower jaw correlated positively with age. Oral dimensions were significantly smaller in mares than in geldings. In coldblood Finnhorses, oral dimensions were greater than in other breeds; in ponies they were smaller. The majority of the oral dimensions correlated positively with each other. Lower jaw width did not correlate with tongue thickness. It was common to use a bit that did not fit the horse: the bit was either too short or too long (over 10 mm longer) compared to mouth width, compressed the tongue in between the upper and lower jaw, or the center link was of similar length compared to lower jaw width, thus possibly causing pressure points or a nutcracker effect on the bars of the lower jaw. Horses had, on average, space for a 14 mm thick bit without compressing the tongue. The results of this study can aid in choosing a horse bit size that fits correctly and does not cause discomfort. It is recommended that the fit of the bit is evaluated regularly as the horse ages.
  • Tuomola, Kati; Maki-Kihniä, Nina; Kujala-Wirth, Minna; Mykkänen, Anna; Valros, Anna (2019)
    Oral lesions in the bit area are common in horses, but not comprehensively studied in harness racing horses. This study describes the type and occurrence of oral soft tissue lesions in the area affected by the bit, hereafter called the bit area, in trotters after a race. Based on our results, we suggest a system for scoring lesions according to size, type (bruise or wound), age, and depth (superficial or deep). The data was collected during a welfare program for trotters, conducted by The Finnish Trotting and Breeding Association (Suomen Hippos ry). The rostral part of the mouth of 261 horses (151 Standardbreds, 78 Finnhorses, and 32 ponies) was examined after a race in a systematic manner, using a bright light source without sedation or a mouth gag. The lip commissures (outside and inside), bars of the mandible, buccal area near the second upper premolar teeth, tongue, and hard palate were visually examined; bars of the mandible were also palpated. Points were assigned to every lesion and then added together, such that each horse got an acute lesion score. Based on the score, the horses were divided into four groups (A- D) as follows: Group A, no lesions; B, mild lesions; C, moderate lesions; D, severe lesions. Of all the horses examined, 84% (219/261) had acute lesions in the bit area. In total, 21% (55/261) had mild lesions, 43% (113/261) had moderate lesions, and 20% (51/261) had severe lesions. Visible bleeding outside the mouth was observed in 2% (6/261) of the horses. Further, 5% of the horses (13/261) had blood on the bit when it was removed from the mouth, even though no blood was visible outside the mouth. In conclusion, soft tissue lesions in the bit area were common in the Finnish trotters examined. Moreover, the absence of blood outside the mouth does not rule out serious injuries inside the mouth. The scoring system presented can be used for evaluating the severity of oral lesions in different equestrian disciplines and populations to allow for comparable data across studies.
  • Tuomola, Kati; Mäki-Kihniä, Nina; Valros, Anna; Mykkänen, Anna; Kujala-Wirth, Minna (2021)
    Background Bit-related lesions in competition horses have been documented, but little evidence exists concerning their potential risk factors. Objectives To explore potential risk factors for oral lesions in Finnish trotters. Study design Cross-sectional study. Methods The rostral part of the mouth of 261 horses (151 Standardbreds, 78 Finnhorses and 32 ponies) was examined after a harness race. Information on bit type, equipment and race performance was collected. Results A multivariable logistic regression model of Standardbreds and Finnhorses showed a higher risk of moderate or severe oral lesion status associated with horses wearing a Crescendo bit (n = 38, OR 3.6, CI 1.4–8.9), a mullen mouth regulator bit (n = 25, OR 9.9, CI 2.2-45) or a straight plastic bit (n = 14, OR 13.7, CI 1.75-110) compared with horses wearing a snaffle trotting bit (n = 98, P = .002). Bar lesions (67 horses) were more common in horses wearing unjointed bits than in horses wearing jointed bits (Fisher's exact test P < .001). Lesions in the buccal area and the inner lip commissures were not associated with bit type. Using a tongue-tie or an overcheck, galloping, placement in the top three or money earned in the race were not associated with lesion risk. Main limitations The sample size for certain bit types was insufficient for statistical analysis. Conclusions Moderate and severe oral lesion status was more common in horses wearing a Crescendo bit, a mullen mouth regulator bit or a straight plastic bit than in horses wearing a single-jointed snaffle trotting bit. However, lesions were observed regardless of bit type. Further studies on rein tension, the interaction between bit type and rein tension and prevention of mouth lesions in trotters are warranted.