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Effects of winter housing, exercise, and dietary treatments on the behaviour and welfare of red deer ( Cervus elaphus ) hinds

By J. C. Pollard, R. P. Littlejohn

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Behaviour, productivity, skin damage and adrenal response to ACTH challenge were measured in 6 groups of 8 weaner hinds over 91 days from June to September 1990 (winter) in Otago, New Zealand. The hinds were confined either indoors (I), indoors with daily exercise (IE) or outdoors (2 groups per treatment). All groups were fed concentrate ad libitum plus 100 g lucerne/animal, daily. Indoor confinement was associated with a greater incidence of nosing/chewing other hinds, aggression, chewing of the enclosure, and closer distances between individuals, compared with outdoor confinement. Ad libitum provision of hay over a 2-week period reduced the incidence of chewing of indoor enclosures. Weight gain was greater for indoor groups than outdoor groups in August and September and overall weight gains for indoor groups (from 2 weeks into the study, until the end) were higher for the exercise treatment. Intake of concentrates did not differ significantly between treatments. Skin damage was greater for indoor than outdoor groups, and positively related to weight gain and receiving aggression, which in turn was negatively related to liveweight. A negative relationship was found between pre-challenge levels of plasma cortisol and the number of aggressive interactions received. Pre-challenge cortisol was greater for IE than I, and the increase in cortisol post-challenge was greater for outdoor groups than indoor groups. It is concluded that indoor confinement had a positive effect on weight gain, but increased aggression and skin damage, indicating that the deer were compromised socially. Provision of ample forage reduced chewing of the walls.

Date 1998
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 7
Issue 1
Pages 45-56
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address AgResearch, Invermay Agricultural Centre, Private Bag 50034, Puddle Alley, Mosgiel, New Zealand.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggression
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal housing
  4. Animal husbandry
  5. Animal nutrition
  6. Animal rights
  7. Animal welfare
  8. Australasia
  9. Commonwealth of Nations
  10. Deer
  11. Developed countries
  12. Diets
  13. Exercise
  14. Hay
  15. Housing
  16. Liveweight gains
  17. Mammals
  18. New Zealand
  19. Oceania
  20. OECD countries
  21. peer-reviewed
  22. Stress
  23. Weight
  1. peer-reviewed