Conference proceedings article
Human-animal relationship in dairy farming: appropriate measures for routine on-farm application, and the influence of humans, management and husbandry on the reactivity of the animals



Publication Details
Authors:
Ebinghaus, A.; Ivemeyer, S.; Knierim, U.; König, S.
Editor:
Vetsuisse
Publisher:
Vetsuisse
Place:
Bern
Publication year:
2014
Pages range:
9
Book title:
Symposium-Proceedings: Human-animal interactions - Impacts on animal welfare and behaviour

Abstract
Today, the human-animal relationship (HAR) is seen as an essential component of any strategy intending to improve the welfare and productivity of dairy cows and the work safety and quality of stockpersons.HAR can be measured via behavioural and physiological responses of the animal towards humans. So far, validated behavioural indicators are predominantly used in the context of animal welfare research, but the reactivity of farm animals may also be of interest in the context of dairy cattle breeding. Breeding associations started to use the average milk flow per minute or the milking behaviour (subjective evaluation by the stockperson) as indicators for cow behaviour in order to improve the manageability, to reduce the risk of susceptibility to stress, and to prevent milk ejection problems.However, reliability and validity of currently used measures in breeding programs are insufficiently validated. On-farm data collection of validated HAR indicators is often time-consuming and requires trained observers. Thus, in the present three-years-project a search for established or innovative measures shall be undertaken, which (1) allow reliable conclusions on HAR under different management and housing conditions, and which (2) are suitable as breeding measures. Already established and validated measures will be used as standard measures. They include the avoidance distance of cows towards an unfamiliar experimenter assessed in the barn or at the feeding place, and the behavioural responses (flinch/step/kick) of cows during milking. Candidates for innovative HAR measures are e.g. the percentage of eye-white, qualitative behaviour assessment (QBA), responses to standardised udder palpation or the position of hair whorls on the cows´ forehead. Furthermore, the project aims to identify important influences of human attitude and behaviour as well as husbandry and management on these measures. For this, on-farm assessments on about 30 dairy farms in Germany with a minimum of 1,000 dairy cows in total will be conducted after HAR measures have been selected on the basis of their validity, reliability and feasibility.

Last updated on 2019-25-07 at 13:30