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A review of welfare in cattle, sheep and pig lairages, with emphasis on stocking rates, ventilation and noise

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Abstract:

Appropriate space allowances for animals are yet to be specifically determined for lairage. Space allowances that may be suitable for animals in lairage are suggested, based on reviewed studies of animals in transport, lairage and on farm. The longer animals are in lairage the more space they require, in order to be able to get up and lie down and lie undisturbed by congeners. Little work has been done on air quality and air flow characteristics in lairages. The range of ventilation must be sufficient to control levels of toxic or irritant gases such as carbon dioxide and ammonia and to remove excess heat and humidity; the latter being particularly relevant for pig lairages in hot weather. Intensities of sound measured in lairages often exceed 85 dB and there is evidence to suggest that such levels can be stressful especially for pigs; and human shouting appears particularly aversive to animals. Cattle vocalise in response to painful stimuli and to convey information to conspecifics that may be related to fear and distress. There is limited evidence that sheep adapt to continuous sound, provided it is not too loud, but respond to intermittent sounds such as gates banging and human shouting. Vocal communication between sheep may be less important than that between cattle and pigs. Levels of vocalisation are potential indices of animal welfare. Animals' prior experiences and factors such as sex, group size and constitution, pen design, and climatic or environmental conditions affect their welfare and responses to conditions in lairage.

Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; CATTLE; LAIRAGE; NOISE; PIGS; SHEEP

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2008

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