Enhancing animal welfare and improving production performance of feedlot cattle by introducing forms of environmental enrichment

Kahl, Cornelia Erika Iris (2018-03)

Thesis (MSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The effect of environmental enrichment in the form of shading, formation of a manure heap and the stimulation of increasing visits to the feeding trough on the maintenance behaviour, social behaviour and production parameters in a Namibian beef cattle feedlot were assessed. In the first study, the effect of providing shading to the cattle on the weight gain, maintenance and social behaviour was assessed. The animals in the control group had a 300 g higher daily weight gain compared to the shade group. The maintenance behaviour did not differ significantly between the shade and control group, except for the feeding and drinking behaviour which was higher in the control group and could be linked to the higher dry matter feed intake. The social behaviour showed significant differences with more affiliative behaviours in the shade group. The cattle spent most of their time in the shaded area by either standing, lying down or walking, while more socialising (affiliative, aggressive and stereotypic) behaviour was observed in the non-shaded area. Cattle were utilising the shaded area more frequently than the non-shaded area, except in winter when the cattle were more active in the non-shaded area due to cooler temperatures. The results show that the animals in the shade group experienced a better welfare due to the availability of shading. The second study assessed the effect of a manure heap in the middle of the pen on the weight gain, maintenance and social behaviour of the cattle. The manure group gained 200 g less weight per day compared the control group. No significant differences, between the manure and control group, were found for the social and maintenance behaviours, except for lying down and feeding. Lying down was the most frequent behaviour during the study and differed between the seasons. The off-heap area was generally more occupied by the cattle since only 5% of the pen was covered by the manure heap. The cattle of the manure group showed more positive behaviours, such as playing. For both groups, the lying down behaviour was more frequent in winter, while standing was more frequent in summer. On cooler and rainy days the manure heap was fully occupied, as it was a heat reservoir (of the previous day’s sun shining on it) and a dryer area to stand and lay on after heavy rainfalls. The third study investigated the effect of stimulating the animals’ visits to the feeding trough by turning the feed in the feeding trough with a shovel. The aim was to get more cattle at the feeding trough to stimulate feed intake and thereby improve production. In this study, only the feeding behaviour was recorded by means of visits to the feeding trough. The feed stimulation group did not improve their weight gain per day (300 g/day less than the barren treatment) although they ate 300 g more feed per day than the barren treatment. The visits to the feeding trough were more stimulated by the feed mixer delivering feed or passing the trough than the manual turning of the feed with a shovel. Lower feeding was recorded in spring and autumn due to the varying temperatures in Namibia during these seasons. The temperament and individual personalities of the cattle, the human-animal interaction/bond and the adaptability of the cattle to the climate most likely had a more pronounced effect than the treatments evaluated on the animals’ welfare. The treatments used in this study did not show a high success rate, but consumers’ perception and the overall happiness of the animals observed makes it a worthy gesture to introduce these forms of environmental enrichment into a cattle feedlot in Namibia.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die effek van omgewingsverryking in die vorm van skaduwee, bou van ‘n mishoop en die stimulasie van die beeste om meer gereeld by die voerbak te kom vreet op die onderhoudsgedrag, sosiale gedrag en die produksie parameters in 'n Namibiëse beesvoerkraal was ontleed. Gedurende die eerste studie is die effek van skaduwee op die gewigstoename, onderhoudsgedrag en die sosiale gedrag van die beeste ontleed. Die diere van die kontrole groep het `n 300 g hoër daaglikse massatoename gehad teenoor dié van die skaduwee groep. Die onderhoudsgedrag het nie tussen die skaduwee en kontrole groepe verskil nie, behalwe vir vreet- en drinkgedrag wat hoër was vir die kontrole groep weens van die hoër daaglikse droë materiaal inname. Die sosiale gedrag het verskille getoon met meer affiliatiewe gedrag vir die skaduwee groep. Die beeste het meeste van hul tyd in die skaduwee gebied gestaan, gelê of beweeg, maar meer sosiale (affiliatiewe, aggressiewe en stereotipiese) gedrag is in die sonnige area waargeneem. Die beeste het meer tyd in die skaduwee area spandeer, behalwe in die winter wanneer die beeste eeder in die son wou wees weens die koeler omgewings-temperature. Die resultate toon dat die diere in die skaduwee groep beter diere-welsyn ondervind het. Die tweede studie het die effek van die bou van `n mishoop in die middel van die kraal op die massatoename, sosiale- en onderhoudsgedrag van die beeste bestudeer. Die mishoop groep het 200 g minder massa per dag opgetel as die kontrole groep. Geen verskille is tussen die twee groepe se sosiale en onderhoudsgedrag gevind nie, behalwe vir lê en vreet. Die lê-gedrag was die mees algemene gedrag in hierdie studie en het seisoenale verskille getoon. Die mishoop het slegs 5% van die hele kraal beslaan, gevolglik het minder gedrag op die mishoop plaasgevind. Die beeste van die mishoop groep het meer positiewe gedrag, soos om te speel, getoon. In albei groepe het die beeste die meeste tydens die winter gelê en meer tydens die somer gestaan. Op koue en reënerige dae was die mishoop vol beset, waarskynlik omdat die hoop die hitte van die vorige dag behou het of die hoop droër sou wees na reënval. Die derde studie het die effek van die voer in die voerbak met ‘n graaf te draai op die beeste se besoekfrekwensie aan die voerbak ondersoek. Die doel was om meer beeste meer gereeld by die voerbak te kry om sodoende voerinname te stimuleer en hierdeur die produksie te verbeter. In hierdie studie is slegs die voedingsgedrag gemeet deur middel van die aantal besoeke aan die voerbak. Die voer groep het minder massa opgetel (300 g minder as die kontrole groep), alhoewel hulle 300 g meer voer per dag as die kontrole groep ingeneem het. Die voermenger het die beeste meer gestimuleer as die draai van die voer. Die beeste het minder in die lente en herfs gevreet weens groot seisoenale temperatuurskomelinge van Namibië. Die temperament en individuele persoonlikheid van die beeste, die mens-dier interaksie/verhouding en die aanpassing by die klimaat het waarskynlik ‘n groter effek op diere-welsyn teenoor die behandelings wat evalueer was. Die behandelings wat in hierdie studie gebruik is, het wel geen sukses getoon nie, maar die verbruikers se persepsie en die algehele geluk van die diere soos waargeneem, maak dit die moeite werd om hierdie vorm van omgewingsverryking in te bring by ‘n beesvoerkraal in Namibië.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103523
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