Play behaviour in domestic goat kids. The influences of flooring surface and heat supplementation, and potential implications for welfare
Kiddle, J. G. (2021). Play behaviour in domestic goat kids. The influences of flooring surface and heat supplementation, and potential implications for welfare (Thesis, Master of Science (Research) (MSc(Research))). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14525
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14525
Increased demand for commercial goat products and concern for welfare in farmed animals has led to a demand for further research in goat welfare. Animal behaviour is commonly used to assess animal welfare in farm animals. Both the elimination of negative welfare states and the improvements of positive welfare states are important in the assessment of animal welfare. The performance of play has been used as an indicator of positive welfare in several species. Research on play behaviour in goat kids is limited. The following thesis describes a study investigating play behaviour in domestic goat kids in response to flooring and provisional supplemental heat and then discusses the possible welfare implications of play behaviour for goat kids. In part 1 of the study an ethogram of play behaviour in domestic goat kids was developed from video recordings and live observations. Part 2 is a continuation of research conducted by Sutherland et al. (2019) in which 80 female Saanen goat kids were grouped into four treatments. The treatments were as follows; 1) floor covered in wood shavings without heat lamps, 2) wood shavings with two heat lamps, 3) metal mesh flooring without heat lamps, and 3) metal mesh with two heat lamps. Each treatment consisted of four pens (1.5mx3.5m) with five goats per pen. All pens were video camera recorded and replayed on Adobe Premier Pro. Play behaviour frequencies were observed during 30 min periods twice a day for eight days. Behaviour was continuously recorded as frequency per minute. The results indicated that flooring surface had an influence on play behaviour frequencies in goat kids with a significant increase in play behaviour found in wood shaving treatments (p<0.05). Heat supplementation did not influence play behaviour with no significant difference between heat lamp and no heat lamp treatments (p>0.05). Play behaviour could potentially be used as an indicator of good welfare in goat kids, however, more research is needed to assess change in play behaviour in response to other situations. The complexity of behaviour, such as the performance of play behaviours other than locomotor play, could also be used to indicate enhanced levels of welfare, exceeding the minimum standards, however, this requires more validation.
The University of Waikato
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