Nav: Home

Head partitions reduce stress in goats during feeding

August 04, 2016

Competition in the goat pen is especially high during feeding time. Social tension rises and there is an increased frequency of agonistic interactions. A significant influence here is the available space. Goats prefer to maintain a minimum distance, termed "individual distance", to other goats. But this amount of feeding space is only rarely available. "To get to their food, the animals 'involuntarily' come into closer proximity than they would like. This can lead to injuries, stress and reduced milk yield," says project leader Susanne Waiblinger of the Institute of Animal Husbandry and Welfare at Vetmeduni Vienna.

Well-designed feed barriers have positive effects

Structural aids such as feeding racks can improve the situation. They can create a barrier between the neighbouring feeding places, as the animals have to put their head through the individual openings in order to feed. But feeding racks do not prevent animals from being disturbed during feeding. The goats constantly observe which animals are standing next to them or if higher-ranking animals are approaching. "They interrupt their feeding because they want to displace other animals when they come too close or because they have to avoid dominant animals," explains Waiblinger. It is known from other animal species that non-transparent head partitions between the animals can, in a manner of speaking, reduce the individual distance. "Animals don't feel disturbed when they can't see each other," says Waiblinger. The question therefore was whether head partitions can also reduce tensions at the feeding area of a goat herd. The team around first author Eva Nordmann therefore attached additional head partitions to the feeding racks. They then observed the social behaviour in two groups, each kept for two weeks with the head partitions and two weeks without, and assessed the nutritional status of the goats. They also noted how many feeding places were occupied simultaneously and analysed stress indicators in faecal samples. A positive effect of the head partitions was observed especially in terms of social behaviour and feeding place use.

Out of sight, out of mind

High-ranking goats were calmer during feeding because the head partitions prevented them from seeing the neighbouring feeding places and they did not feel compelled to chase away competitors. As a result, other goats are less frequently driven away from their feeding places. Feeding times were more relaxed in terms of less frequent disturbances during feeding. More feeding places were used at one time and the goats more often stood directly next to each other without leaving a feeding place unoccupied. The researchers even observed an increased nutritional status (musculature and fat) measured at the lumbar spine among the high-ranking animals. The fewer disturbances by neighbouring animals therefore appeared to increase food intake among high-ranking animals.

Head partitions support sense of well-being

The head partitions significantly reduced the agonistic interactions between the animals in the feeding area. The feeding time was more relaxed for all members of the herd. "Head partitions can therefore be recommended as supportive measures in the feeding area," concludes Waiblinger. "Together with metal palisades, they form a very good structure for the feeding area in the goat pen and contribute to the well-being of the animals. That can also improve the health and milk yield of the goats in the long term."
-end-
Service

The article "Head partitions at the feed barrier affect behaviour of goats" by Eva Nordmanna, Kerstin Barth, Andreas Futschik, Rupert Palme and Susanne Waiblinger was published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168159115000970

About the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna

The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna in Austria is one of the leading academic and research institutions in the field of Veterinary Sciences in Europe. About 1,300 employees and 2,300 students work on the campus in the north of Vienna which also houses five university clinics and various research sites. Outside of Vienna the university operates Teaching and Research Farms. http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at

Scientific Contact:

Susanne Waiblinger
Institute of Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T 43-1-25077-4905
susanne.waiblinger@vetmeduni.ac.at

Released by:

Georg Mair
Science Communication / Corporate Communications
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T 43-1-25077-1165
georg.mair@vetmeduni.ac.at

University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna

Related Stress Articles:

Captive meerkats at risk of stress
Small groups of meerkats -- such as those commonly seen in zoos and safari parks -- are at greater risk of chronic stress, new research suggests.
Stress may protect -- at least in bacteria
Antibiotics harm bacteria and stress them. Trimethoprim, an antibiotic, inhibits the growth of the bacterium Escherichia coli and induces a stress response.
Some veggies each day keeps the stress blues away
Eating three to four servings of vegetables daily is associated with a lower incidence of psychological stress, new research by University of Sydney scholars reveals.
Prebiotics may help to cope with stress
Probiotics are well known to benefit digestive health, but prebiotics are less well understood.
Building stress-resistant memories
Though it's widely assumed that stress zaps a person's ability to recall memory, it doesn't have that effect when memory is tested immediately after a taxing event, and when subjects have engaged in a highly effective learning technique, a new study reports.
Stress during pregnancy
The environment the unborn child is exposed to inside the womb can have a major effect on her or his development and future health.
New insights into how the brain adapts to stress
New research led by the University of Bristol has found that genes in the brain that play a crucial role in behavioural adaptation to stressful challenges are controlled by epigenetic mechanisms.
Uncertainty can cause more stress than inevitable pain
Knowing that there is a small chance of getting a painful electric shock can lead to significantly more stress than knowing that you will definitely be shocked.
Stress could help activate brown fat
Mild stress stimulates the activity and heat production by brown fat associated with raised cortisol, according to a study published today in Experimental Physiology.
Experiencing major stress makes some older adults better able to handle daily stress
Dealing with a major stressful event appears to make some older adults better able to cope with the ups and downs of day-to-day stress.

Related Stress Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...