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Effect of Climatic Conditions on the Behaviour of Adult Ostriches (struthio Camelus) in Britain

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Abstract:

Welfare is being promoted as a reason why ostriches should not be kept on farms in Europe. It is reasoned that the climate, particularly during winter, is unsuitable for these birds despite there being little scientific evidence to support this claim. This study recorded the frequency of behaviours of male and female adult ostriches kept on a farm in Britain during the spring of 1996. 'Rainy', 'dull and dry', 'bright and dry', and 'sunny' weather categories were used to assess the influence of climate on behaviour. Six main behaviours (sitting, standing, pacing, walking, foraging and feeding) were observed together with a variety of low frequency 'other' behaviours which were combined for analysis. Gender had no significant effect on any of the behaviour frequencies. During 'rainy' pen'ods both males and females showed sitting behaviour five times more than during 'dull' and 'bright' weather and two and a halftimes more than during 'sunny' weather. Increased sitting behaviour during rainy periods was due to a significant reduction in pacing and 'other' behaviours with no significant effect on feeding and foraging behaviours. Sitting during sunny weather also occurred more often than during dull and bright weather but not at the expense of any other particular behaviour. Adult ostriches in Britain alter their behaviour in response to prevailing weather conditions, particularly rain.

Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; BEHAVIOUR; FARMING; OSTRICH; WEATHER

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1997-11-01

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