Effect of the number of concentrate feeding places per pen on performance, behavior, and welfare indicators of Friesian calves during the first month after arrival at the feedlot.
The assessment of comfort and well-being in farm animals is discussed in terms of physical damage, physiological responses and behavior. Injuries may be due to the physical environment or contact, such as aggression, with other animals. Animals may reduce the frequency of injuries by modifying their behavior. Evaluation of injuries requires a methodical assessment of specific areas of the body and examination of the facilities and behavior of the animal to determine cause. The physiological response of an animal is dependent upon its psychological response. The adrenal medullary and cortical responses represent distinct strategies that may occur simultaneously or independently of each other. Stress frequently results in suppression of immune responses, although some aspects of the immune system are enhanced. Inadequate or excessive motivation results in behavioral problems and facilities must accommodate the behavior of the animals. Methods of preference-testing have been improved to evaluate factors in the environment and assess motivation for specific behaviors more reliably. All of the methods used to assess comfort and well-being must consider the animal's ability to adapt to different environments. Although it remains difficult to assess comfort and well-being across systems, improvement within a system can be demonstrated.