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Impact of human-animal interactions on the health, productivity and welfare of farm animals

By P. M. Hemsworth

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Abstract

While technical skills and knowledge are important attributes of the work performance of stockpeople, two other important but less well recognised characteristics of stockpeople are their attitude and behaviour towards farm animals. Research has shown that the attitude of the stockperson, by affecting the stockperson's behaviour, can affect animal fear and stress and in turn animal productivity, health and welfare. While fear thresholds have been reduced by domestication, fear responses to humans have not been eliminated in farm animals. Indeed there is considerable variation within farm animal species in their fear responses to humans and this variation highlights both limitations to animal productivity, health and welfare and the opportunities to reduce these limitations in the livestock industries. This chapter examines the impact of human-animal interactions on farm animals and discusses the opportunities to improve human-animal interactions to improve animal health, productivity and welfare. The chapter concludes that there is a strong case for utilizing stockperson training courses that target stockperson attitudes and behaviour.

Date 2009
Publication Title Sustainable animal production: the challenges and potential developments for professional farming
Pages 57-68
ISBN/ISSN 978-90-8686-099-9
Publisher Wageningen Academic Publishers
Location of Publication Wageningen
Language English
Author Address Animal Welfare Science Centre, Faculty of Land and Food Resources, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia. phh@unimelb.edu.au
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Tags
  1. Animal health and hygiene
  2. Animal husbandry
  3. Animal production
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Attitudes
  6. Fear
  7. Livestock
  8. Social psychology and social anthropology
  9. Stress