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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

Research Project: Safeguarding Well-Being of Food Producing Animals

Location: Livestock Behavior Research

Project Number: 3602-32000-011-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Apr 01, 2013
End Date: Mar 31, 2018

Objective:
Objective 1: Develop scientific measures of the well-being of swine for industry practices or production challenges including lameness, aggression, and neonatal mortality. Identify husbandry and environmental challenges and develop sustainable alternatives that safeguard the well-being of swine. 1.A. Increase sow longevity by increasing articular cartilage health. 1.B. Decrease perinatal and neonatal piglet mortality. 1.C. Determine factors that influence aggression in pigs. Objective 2: Develop scientific measures of the well-being of dairy cattle for industry practices or production challenges including lameness, pain, and discomfort; and group housing of calves. Identify husbandry and environmental challenges and develop sustainable alternatives that safeguard the well-being of dairy cattle. 2.A. Identify a novel indicator of chronic pain in cattle. 2.B. Determine optimum age for grouping, group size, and need for individual partitioning of trough space for group-housed veal and dairy calves. Objective 3: Develop scientific measures of the well-being of poultry for industry practices or production challenges including aggression, heat stress and alternative housing. Identify husbandry and environmental challenges and develop sustainable alternatives that safeguard the well-being of poultry. 3.A. Prevent aggression in poultry by modification of the serotonergic system. 3.B. Develop intervention strategies for increasing heat tolerance in poultry. 3.C. Develop alternative housing for poultry.

Approach:
The long-term objective of this project is to optimize animal welfare and productivity. The approach is to focus on animal behavior, the outward expression of the cumulative effects of internal biological changes, to assess where challenges may exist and to develop alternative management strategies to solve these challenges. This project will examine animal agricultural practices, using behavior, physiology, immunology, and neurobiology. The project’s focus is on 4 significant areas of concern: aggression, lameness, pain, and discomfort. This unit is charged with the difficult task of conducting research for three species: dairy cattle, swine, and poultry. To accomplish this goal, unit scientists with different expertise work together on multiple and varying projects to address the primary challenges to welfare that are characteristic of the production systems for each species. Our ultimate goal is to: 1) discover and further refine objective measures of stress, and 2) evaluate and create appropriate management and housing methods. A sustained effort is required to make significant progress in optimizing animal welfare.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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