It’s easy to recognize play behaviour in calves when you see it, says Dr. Jeff Rushen, they run and jump. Exploring these positive emotions can be useful tools to assess animal welfare.
In two presentations at the recent Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare’s (CCSAW) annual Research Symposium at the University of Guelph, Rushen outlined what science has taught about best practices for handling dairy cattle and about exploring positive emotions in animals by studying play in young calves and how that may be useful in the assessment of animal welfare.
Rushen has worked on many aspects of animal welfare in poultry, sheep, swine, beef and dairy cattle in Australia, Germany, Sweden and Canada. He is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Animal Welfare Program at the University of British Columbia, at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at Saskatoon and at the University of Laval in Quebec. He has on-going collaborative research in Japan, Denmark and Finland with current interests in welfare assessment of dairy cows and play behaviour, milk-feeding, sickness behaviour and welfare assessment of calves.
Traditionally animal welfare scientists have focused on minimizing risks to the welfare of animals, says Rushen, but there is an increasing recognition and interest in exploring the positive experiences these animals have that enrich their lives.
In his talks, Rushen outlined studies looking at calf behaviour related to milk allowance and weaning age, response to new environments, and disbudding. View his two talks here.
What science has taught us about best practices for handling dairy cattle.
Play behaviour, positive emotions and the assessment of animal welfare.
The 8th annual CCSAW Symposium included a range of topics including poultry and companion animal information, in addition to the dairy sessions.
CCSAW’s mission is to promote the welfare of animals through research, outreach and education. Situated at the University of Guelph, it gathers expertise from researchers in veterinary and animal science, the humanities and social sciences with active interests in animal welfare and related ethical issues.
Go to @ontvetcollege on Twitter to see an overview of the Symposium talks.
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