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Qualitative Behavioural Assessment of Angus steers during pre-slaughter handling and relationship with temperament and physiological responses

By Catherine A. Stockman, Peter McGilchrist, Teresa Collins, Anne L. Barnes, David Miller, Sarah L. Wickham, Paul L. Greenwood, Linda M. Cafe, Dominique Blache, Francoise Wemelsfelder, Patricia A. Fleming

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Abstract

This study examined the behavioural expression of cattle immediately prior to slaughter through the process of Qualitative Behavioural Assessment (QBA), and compared these results to measurements of physiology and temperament. Twenty-eight Angus steers were filmed while in a funnel chute as they were being moved towards an abattoir killing box. Footage of cattle was shown in random order to 15 observers. Observers assessed the cattle using a qualitative approach based on Free Choice Profiling (FCP) methodology, which gives observers complete freedom to choose their own descriptive terms. Data were analysed with Generalised Procrustes Analysis (GPA). There was significant consensus (P5.7 (classified as a ‘dark cutter’) had a low value for GPA dimension 2 (scored as relatively more ‘annoyed’/‘frightened’). The findings from this study suggest that QBA could contribute to assessing pre-slaughter animal handling, highlighting potential issues to be followed up with additional measures. The significant correlations between GPA dimension 1 with slaughter order and plasma lactate warrant further investigation, comparing behavioural expression with aspects of meat quality.

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 142
Issue 3
Pages 125-133
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2012.10.016
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Tags
  1. Agitation
  2. Analysis
  3. Cattle
  4. Farm animals
  5. Temperament tests