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The Animal-Human Interface in Farm Animal Production: Animal Fear, Stress, Reproduction and Welfare

By R. Y. Acharya, P. H. Hemsworth, G. J. Coleman, J. E. Kinder

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Abstract

A negative human-animal relationship (HAR) from the perspective of the animal is a limiting factor affecting farm animal welfare, as well as farm animal productivity. Research in farm animals has elucidated sequential relationships between stockperson attitudes, stockperson behaviour, farm animal fear behaviour, farm animal stress physiology, and farm animal productivity. In situations where stockperson attitudes to and interactions with farm animals are sub-optimal, through animal fear and stress, both animal welfare and productivity, including reproductive performance, can be compromised. There is a growing body of evidence that farm animals often seek and enjoy interacting with humans, but our understanding of the effects of a positive HAR on stress resilience and productivity in farm animals is limited. In this review, we explore the pathways by which stress induced by human-animal interactions can negatively affect farm animal reproduction, in particular, via inhibitory effects on the secretion of gonadotrophins. We also review the current knowledge of the stockperson characteristics and the nature of stockperson interactions that affect fear and physiological stress in farm animals. The contents of this review provide an insight into the importance of the HAR on farm animal welfare and reproduction while highlighting the gap in knowledge regarding the effects of a positive HAR on farm animals.

Publication Title Animals (Basel)
Volume 12
Issue 4
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615 (Print)2076-2615
DOI 10.3390/ani12040487
Author Address The Animal Welfare Science Centre, Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia.Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal welfare
  2. Human-animal interactions
  3. Neuroendocrinology
  4. open access
  5. productivity
  6. Reproduction
  7. Stress
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  1. open access