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.
|Publication Title||Animal Welfare|
|Author Address||AgResearch, Invermay Agricultural Centre, Private Bag 50034, Puddle Alley, Mosgiel, New Zealand.|
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