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The relationship between farmers' attitude and behaviour towards calves, and productivity of veal units

By J. Lensink, A. Boissy, I. Veissier

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Abstract

Although veal production is highly standardized, there still remains variability in productivity between farms, which might be due to the farmers' behaviour towards their animals, which in turn depends on their attitude towards animals. 50 affiliated with the same veal company were studied. The farmers' behaviour with the calves was observed during a morning meal. The farmers were then asked to fill in questionnaires designed to measure their attitude towards calves, and to obtain information about their background (e.g. age, gender, level of education). The productivity results (daily weight gain, feed conversion, and mortality rates) were obtained from the veal company. The frequency of gentle contacts was positively correlated with the description the farmers made of their behaviour with the calves and their beliefs about the sensitivity of calves. Female farmers showed a more positive behaviour towards the calves, had more positive beliefs about the importance of contacts with calves, and made a more positive description of their own behaviour. Positive behaviour was associated with better productivity. Furthermore, bigger units had lower mortality rates. It is concluded that for veal farmers, a positive attitude towards calves, a positive behaviour towards them, and good production results are linked.

Date 2000
Publication Title Annales de Zootechnie
Volume 49
Issue 4
Pages 313-327
ISBN/ISSN 0003-424X
DOI 10.1051/animres:2000122
Language English
Author Address INRA, Centre de Recherches de Clermont-Ferrand-Theix, Unite de Recherches sur les Herbivores, 63122 Saint-Genes-Champanelle, France.
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Tags
  1. Animal husbandry
  2. Animal physiology
  3. Animal rights
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Attitudes
  6. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  7. Calves
  8. Cattle
  9. Developed countries
  10. Europe
  11. Farms
  12. Feeding
  13. France
  14. Human behavior
  15. Mammals
  16. Meat animals
  17. Meat production
  18. Mediterranean region
  19. mortality
  20. OECD countries
  21. Primates
  22. productivity
  23. Ruminants
  24. Weight