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Influence of Exercise Enrichment on Feedlot Cattle Behaviour and the Human–Animal Relationship

By Emma J. Dunston-Clarke, Isabella Hunter, Teresa Collins

Category Journal Articles

Finding practicable and cost-effective enrichment for cattle in feedlots is challenging. While enrichment should not negatively impact productivity, it could assist in improving feedlot sustainability by addressing societal concern that cattle have restricted, unnatural lives. In a feedlot 250 km northeast of Perth, 287 mixed-breed Bos taurus cattle were provided with two different exercise treatments (1 = exercised in pen, 2 = exercised in laneway) and a control pen. Cattle were exercised using low-stress stock handling 2–3 times/week for approximately 20 min between days 40–80 of a 120-day feeding program. Body weights, crush temperament and crush exit speeds were collected on days 40 and 80, while behavioural testing was conducted on days 41, 60 and 79 in home pens. Body weight was found to significantly increase for all pens, however, weight gains between treatments did not significantly differ (p < 0.05). However, a smaller and higher range of weight gains were found for exercised pens. The control pen had two animals lose weight, suggesting that while enrichment did not negatively impact productivity, there was a possible positive influence. Cattle exercised in the laneway were found to be less responsive and recovered quickly post exposure to a novel human. Cattle exercised in-pen were less reactive during avoidance and novel person tests, showing an improved human–animal relationship. This pilot study showed that exercise impacted cattle behaviour and the human–animal relationship, which could assist feedlot sustainability.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2021
Publication Title Proceedings
Volume 73
Issue 1
Pages 7
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/IECA2020-08824
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Aversion
  3. Enrichment
  4. Environmental research
  5. Human-animal relationships
  6. open access
  7. temperament
  1. open access