» Abstracts (2003 Animal Welfare Judging Competition)
A Novel Method for Teaching Animal Welfare Concepts: Animal Welfare Judging Teams
C.R. Heleski, A.J. Zanella, E.A. Pajor
Examining the welfare of animals in various production systems and making ethical evaluations of which is most appropriate continues to be a priority issue affecting many levels of animal agriculture. We have developed a model to increase education of animal welfare issues, while aligning ourselves with a traditional curriculum feature within animal science departments; i.e. judging teams.

We proposed one year ago that developing teams to educate young people about farm animal welfare then establishing competitions to assess their skill level would be one way to integrate welfare science into the mainstream of animal science curricula. Three other universities opted to join Michigan State in this pilot endeavor: Purdue University, University of Guelph and University of Wisconsin. Each team is being coached in the basics of understanding farm animals’ evolutionary biology, their biological needs, indicators of differing levels of welfare and how to holistically evaluate different facilities, stockmanship and management.

Based on pedagogical principles, the concept of integrating learning with competition is known to enhance learning and retention. Students are currently preparing for a competition, March 1, 2002.
The competition will use CD-ROM’s with indicators of animal welfare ranging from physiological data, video and still clips, to behavioral responses and time budgets. Students will evaluate two scenarios for each species being judged, prepare their analysis, then make an oral presentation. The knowledge of welfare science, the integration of multiple measures and the persuasion of the oral presentation will be key in scoring the students.

Preliminary observations indicate that preparing the students for this competition has increased their knowledge base and has enhanced networking with university farm managers. It should be noted that while the assessment of various aspects of animal welfare can be objective and quantifiable, judgment decisions of what threshold level on the continuum between poor and good welfare is acceptable still come down to ethically examined choices.

Keywords: Animal welfare; Welfare assessment; Judging teams

» Abstracts
Influence of housing on weanling horse behavior and subsequent welfare
C.R. Heleski*, A.C. Shelle, B.D. Nielsen, A.J. Zanella
Michigan State University, Animal Science Department, Anthony Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824, USAAbstract
Weaning foals marks a stressful event in horses’ lives. Limited research exists regarding different housing methods post-weaning and the long-term implications on horse behavior and welfare. The purpose of this study was to monitor behavior and physiological stress markers in horses weaned individually in solid partition box stalls versus horses weaned in small groups and housed in paddocks. Both treatments underwent maternal deprivation stress, but the stalled weanlings had the additive effects of social isolation which prevented them from performing social behaviors.

Quarter Horse weanlings from the MSU Merillat Equine Center, average age 4.5 mo, were weaned in 13.4 m2 box stalls (n=6) or in groups of three in a 992 m2 paddock, which had very limited grazing forage and an open shelter available (n=6). Subjects were fed concentrate and hay to National Research Council recommendations. A time budget for 31 observed behaviors was developed. Behavioral observations were made 2 d/wk, approximately 6 h/d, for the duration of the 56 d study. Instantaneous samples were recorded every five minutes on each observation day, with equal division between the two treatment groups (n=35 scans/horse/observation day). Focal data was recorded continuously between scans to provide a more detailed ethogram where needed. On each observation day, fecal samples were collected for a noninvasive measure of 11,17-dioxoandrostanes, an indicator of glucocorticoid metabolite concentration.

Regarding the fecal 11,17-dioxoandrostanes, there was no discernible treatment difference either immediately post-weaning or at the conclusion of the 56 d study. Interestingly, all 12 weanlings showed a four week post-weaning increase in 11,17-dioxoandrostanes. The reason for this peak was unclear.

Behavioral observations demonstrated a significantly different time budget in paddock-reared weanlings than in stall-reared weanlings (P<.0001). Paddock-reared weanlings displayed a time budget more like a feral horse time budget, showing more time spent moving and less time spent lying down. Paddock-reared weanlings, who had the option of selectively engaging in a broader range of behaviors, showed strong motivation to graze and be near conspecifics.
Stalled weanlings spent significantly more time engaged in aberrant behaviors: licking or chewing the stall/shed wall, kicking at the stall/shed wall, pawing, and bucking/rearing bouts (P<.03). Based on the variety of normal behaviors shown, the ability to engage in strongly preferred behaviors, and freedom from aberrant behavior, we conclude that the paddock-reared, group-housed weanlings had better welfare. However, there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the stalled weanlings had poor welfare.

Time Budget emphasis presented at 16th Equine Nutrition & Physiology meetings, 1999, North Carolina.
Welfare Assessment emphasis presented at International Society for Applied Ethology, 1999, Norway.
Utilizing Continuous Recording vs. Instantaneous Recording presented at regional ISAE, 2000, Guelph.
Current article submitted and has been accepted by Applied Animal Behavior Science.


Abstract for Senior Thesis, 1999
Amy Shelle
A Non-Invasive Method to Monitor Stress Hormones In Large Cats

The purpose of this study was to develop a non-invasive protocol for monitoring stress hormones in feces from large cats. Three snow leopards (Panthera uncia) from Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan, an adult female and her two cubs were studied.

A twenty-four hour maternal separation involving the female and two cubs took place during the study to determine if there was a difference in fecal adrenal steroids due to the separation. Fecal samples were collected daily, seven days prior to separation, during and seven days post separation.The fecal samples were analyzed using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). Maternal separation caused an increase in aldosterone and cortisol concentrations in both the cubs and the female. The cubs mean cortisol concentration prior to separation was .0026 micrograms/mg of feces. A four fold increase was observed for both steroids during the end of the twenty-four hour separation. The adult female’s cortisol concentrations followed the same pattern. For both groups’ cortisol and aldosterone concentrati0ns followed a similar pattern except for the end of the study. This indicates that fecal cortisol and aldosterone increases when an animal is under stress and this technique can be used to monitor stress in snow leopards.

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