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Sickness behaviour and its relevance to animal welfare assessment at the group level

By S. T. Millman

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The inflammatory response evokes changes in behaviour including increased thermoregulatory activities and sleep, reduced social exploration and appetite, and altered food preferences. This sickness response also includes feelings of lethargy, depression, and pain, collectively referred to as 'malaise'. Recent experiments involving laboratory rodents reveal information about proximate mechanisms of sickness behaviour, but scant information exists about how sickness behaviour is expressed by farmed species or within social environments. The behavioural needs of ill individuals differ from those of conspecifics, and failure to accommodate the needs of ill individuals may exacerbate suffering. Policy makers, industry and animal welfare certification programs recommend hospital pens to address the housing and handling needs of ill livestock and to reduce risks of disease transmission. However, a survey of swine farms in Ontario, Canada revealed deficiencies in the use of hospital pens and gaps in knowledge about best management practices for this vulnerable population. There is considerable scope to improve the welfare and husbandry of ill and at risk animals through effective use of hospital pens and supportive therapies.

Date 2007
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 16
Issue 2
Pages 123-125
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal diseases
  2. Animal housing
  3. Animal husbandry
  4. Animal immunology
  5. Animal nutrition
  6. Animal rights
  7. Animal welfare
  8. Appetite
  9. Canada
  10. Certification
  11. Cleaning
  12. Commonwealth of Nations
  13. Deficiency
  14. Developed countries
  15. Diets
  16. Diseases
  17. Food preferences
  18. Handling
  19. Health
  20. Husbandry
  21. Immune response
  22. Immunity reactions
  23. Immunological reactions
  24. Inflammation
  25. Livestock
  26. Mammals
  27. Meat animals
  28. North America
  29. OECD countries
  30. Pain
  31. Parasites
  32. peer-reviewed
  33. pens
  34. Policy and Planning
  35. Resistance and Immunity
  36. Rodents
  37. sleep
  38. surveys
  39. Swine
  40. taste
  41. transmission
  42. United States of America
  1. peer-reviewed