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Space allowances for confined livestock and their determination from allometric principles

By J. C. Petherick, C. J. C. Phillips

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Abstract

The amount of space provided to animals governs important elements of their behaviour and, hence, is critical for their health and welfare. We review the use of allometric principles and equations to estimate the static space requirements of animals when standing and lying, and the space required for animals to feed, drink, stand-up and lie-down. We use the research literature relating to transportation and intensive housing of sheep and cattle to assess the validity of allometric equations for estimating space allowances. We investigated these areas because transportation and intensive housing provide points along a continuum in terms of the duration of confinement, (from hours to months) and spatial requirements are likely to increase with increasing duration of confinement, as animals will need to perform a greater behavioural repertoire for long-term survival, health and welfare. We find that, although there are theoretical reasons why allometric relationships to space allowances may vary slightly for different classes of stock, space allowances that have been demonstrated to have adverse effects on animal welfare during transportation correlated well with an inability to accommodate standing animals, as estimated from allometry. For intensive housing, we were able to detect a space allowance below which there were adverse effects on welfare. For short duration transportation during which animals remain standing, a space allowance per animal described by the allometric equation: area (m2)=0.020W0.66, where W=liveweight (kg), would appear to be appropriate. Where it is desirable for all animals to lie simultaneously, then a minimum space allowance per animal described by the allometric equation: area (m2)=0.027W0.66 appears to permit this, given that animals in a group time-share space. However, there are insufficient data to determine whether this allowance onboard a vehicle/vessel would enable animals to move and access food and water with ease. In intensive housing systems, a minimum space allowance per animal described by the allometric equation: area (m2)=0.033W0.66 appears to be the threshold below which there are adverse effects on welfare. These suggested space allowances require verification with a range of species under different thermal conditions and, for transportation, under different conditions of vehicular/vessel stability. The minimum length of trough per animal (L in m) required for feeding and drinking can be determined from L=0.064W0.33, with the number of animals required to feed/drink simultaneously taken into account, together with any requirement to minimise competition. This also requires verification with a range of species. We conclude that allometric relationships are an appropriate basis for the formulation of space allowances for livestock.

Date 2009
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 117
Issue 1/2
Pages 1-12
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2008.09.008
Language English
Author Address Department of Primary Industries & Fisheries, P.O. Box 6014, Rockhampton, Queensland 4702, Australia. carol.petherick@dpi.qld.gov.au
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Tags
  1. Adverse effects
  2. Adverse reactions
  3. Allometry.
  4. Animal behavior
  5. Animal housing
  6. Animal nutrition
  7. Animal rights
  8. Animal welfare
  9. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  10. Cattle
  11. Effect
  12. Estimation
  13. Feeding
  14. Formulations
  15. Health
  16. Livestock
  17. Mammals
  18. peer-reviewed
  19. Ruminants
  20. Sheep
  21. stability
  22. survival
  23. transportation
  24. Wool producing animals
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  1. peer-reviewed