B J Lensink

Universität Kassel, Cassel, Hesse, Germany

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Publications (23)26.19 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Veal calves raised under intensive conditions may express non-nutritive oral behaviors. When expressed in an abnormal way, these behaviors can be a sign of mental suffering and reduced welfare due to a mismatch between environmental or management features and animals' needs. The aims of this study were to estimate the prevalence of non-nutritive oral behaviors in a large sample of veal farms in Europe and to determine the potential influencing factors present at farm level. Data were collected on 157 commercial veal farms in the 3 main veal-producing countries in Europe (the Netherlands, France, and Italy). Observations of 3 non-nutritive oral behaviors (manipulating substrates, tongue rolling, and manipulating a penmate) were performed when calves were aged 14 wk, and the prevalence of these behaviors was calculated. Information on management practices and characteristics of the building and equipment were collected on all farms to assess potential influencing factors for each of the 3 behaviors. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated to evaluate the effect of each individual factor within a generalized linear model. The mean percentage of calves per farm performing manipulating substrates was 11.0 ± 0.46%, performing tongue rolling 2.8 ± 0.18%, and manipulating a penmate 2.7 ± 0.09%, with a high range between farms. Allowing more space for calves than the legal minimum requirement of 1.8 m2/calf and housing them in groups of >10 calves/pen reduced the incidences of manipulating substrates and tongue rolling. Incidence of manipulating substrates was lower for calves fed maize silage compared with calves fed cereal grain, pellets, or muesli. A higher risk of tongue rolling was found when baby-boxes (i.e., single housing during the first 5 to 8 wk) were not used. Risk of calves manipulating a penmate was higher for calves of milk- or meat-type breeds compared with dual-purpose breeds and for calves fed with 280 to 380 kg compared with those fed >380 kg of milk powder in total for the fattening period. The study allowed assessment of multiple factors across farms that showed variety in terms of conditions and level of non-nutritive oral behaviors. Identification of the factors influencing non-nutritive oral behavior is helpful to define potential actions that could be taken on farms to improve the welfare of calves and reduce the prevalence of these behaviors.
    Journal of Dairy Science. 01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: This study aimed at assessing the effect of the observation method (direct or from video) and the effect of the presence of an observer on the behavioural results in veal calves kept on a commercial farm. To evaluate the effect of the observation method, 20 pens (four to five calves per pen) were observed by an observer for 60 min (two observation sessions of 30 min) and video-recorded at the same time. To evaluate the effect of the presence of the observer in front of the pen, 24 pens were video-recorded on 4 consecutive days and an observer was present in front of each pen for 60 min (two observation sessions of 30 min) on the third day. Behaviour was recorded using instantaneous scan sampling. For the study of the observer's effect, the analysis was limited to the posture, abnormal oral behaviour and manipulation of substrates. The two observation methods gave similar results for the time spent standing, but different results for all other behaviours. The presence of an observer did not affect the behaviour of calves at day level; however, their behaviour was affected when the observer was actually present in front of the pens. A higher percentage of calves were standing and were manipulating substrate in the presence of the observer, but there was no effect on abnormal oral behaviour. In conclusion, direct observations are a more suitable observation method than observations from video recordings for detailed behaviours in veal calves. The presence of an observer has a short-term effect on certain behaviours of calves that will have to be taken into consideration when monitoring these behaviours.
    animal 08/2013; · 1.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The human-animal relationship is an important component of the welfare of farm animals and for this reason animal responsiveness tests to humans are included in on-farm welfare assessment schemes that provide indicators for this. However, apart from the behaviour of stockpersons towards their animals, other factors may also influence animals' reactivity to humans as observed through behavioural tests, which can add a further layer of complexity to the interpretation of test results. Knowledge of these factors may help a better interpretation of differences from one farm to another in the outcome of human-animal relationship tests, and may provide clues for improving the relationship between animals and humans. The main objective of this study was to identify whether management or environmental factors could influence the outcome of human-animal relationship tests in veal calves. Two tests were performed when calves were aged 14.9 ± 1.6 (SD) weeks in 148 veal farms: the voluntary approach of an unfamiliar human standing at the feeding fence and the reaction towards an unfamiliar human who entered the home pen and tried to touch each calf in a standardised way (Calf Escape Test (CET) - score 0 to 4). Questionnaires were filled in and interviews with the stockpersons were performed in order to obtain information on stockpersons, management, animal and building characteristics. The latency to touch an unfamiliar human at the feeding fence was significantly correlated with the CET scores. Total number of calves on the farm, space allowance, breed, environmental enrichment, stockperson's experience and season of observation influenced the percentage of calves that scored 0 in CET (i.e. calves that could not be approached). Type of milk distribution, type of breed and number of calves per stockperson influenced the percentage of calves that scored 4 in CET (i.e. calves could be touched). For both CET0 and CET4, the level of self-reported contacts by the stockperson (analysed only on the French subset of 36 farms) did not influence the results. This paper concludes that according to the tests conducted on veal calves on commercial farms, factors such as milk distribution method, breed of the calves or the level of experience of stockpersons with veal farming can have an impact on the results of tests focusing on human-animal relationships.
    animal 07/2012; 6(12):2003-10. · 1.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The study aimed to assess the in vivo and postmortem prevalence of respiratory disorders in veal calves and investigate risk factors associated with them. A cross-sectional study was carried out in 174 farms in the 3 major veal meat-producing countries in Europe (50 in France, 100 in the Netherlands, and 24 in Italy). Trained veterinarians visually evaluated individual calves of 1 batch per farm at 3 and 13 wk after arrival and at 2 wk before slaughter to assess the prevalence of hampered respiration, nasal discharge, and coughing. A random sample of lungs belonging to calves of the same batch was monitored at the slaughterhouse for mild to moderate or severe signs of pneumonia, and presence of pleuritis. Data regarding veal calf housing, feeding, and management and specific characteristics of the batch were collected through an interview with the stockperson, and the potential of these as respiratory disease risk factors was assessed. Regardless of the stage of fattening, the prevalence of in vivo signs of respiratory disorders in calves was always <7%. This low prevalence was likely the outcome of the general implementation by veal producers of standardized practices such as prophylaxis, all-in/all-out, and individual daily checks of the calves, which are recognized tools for effective disease prevention and management. However, at postmortem inspection, 13.9% and 7.7% of lungs showed mild to moderate and severe signs of pneumonia, respectively, and 21.4% of the inspected lungs had pleuritis. Thus, even mild clinical signs of respiratory disorder in calves at specific time points during the fattening period may be associated with high prevalence of lungs with lesions at slaughter. Alternatively, clinical symptoms recorded during routine visual inspections of veal calves on-farm may be poor predictors of the true prevalence of respiratory disease in calves. Among all potential risk factors considered, those concerning the characteristics of the batch were predominant but factors related to housing, management and feeding equipment were also relevant. Different risk factors were involved at different stages of the fattening period. Therefore, to overcome respiratory disorders in veal calves, different solutions may apply to different stages of the fattening period.
    Journal of Dairy Science 05/2012; 95(5):2753-64. · 2.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The presence and severity of lung lesions recorded post-mortem is commonly used as an indicator to assess the prevalence of respiratory problems in batches of bovines. In the context of a welfare monitoring based on on-farm measures, the recording of clinical signs on calves at the farm would be more convenient than the recording of lung lesions at slaughter. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between clinical respiratory signs at farm and post-mortem analyses of lung lesions observed at slaughter in veal calves. If clinical signs were a good predictor of lung lesions it could be possible to integrate only those measures in a welfare monitoring system. One-hundred-and-seventy-four batches of calves were observed 3 times: at 3 and 13 weeks after arrival of the calves at the unit and at 2 weeks before slaughter. For each batch a maximum of 300 calves was observed and the proportions of calves showing abnormal breathing, nasal discharge and coughing were recorded. Post-mortem inspection was carried out on a sample of lungs belonging to calves from the observed batches. Each examined lung was classified according to a 4-point scale for pneumonia from healthy lung (score 0) to severe lesions (score 3). The clinical signs recorded infra vitam were significantly correlated with moderate and severe lung lesions for observations at 13 weeks and 2 weeks before slaughter and the level of the correlation was highly variable (r(sp) from 0.16 to 0.40). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were created and the area under the curves showed that batches with a high proportion of lungs with moderate or severe lesions could not be accurately detected by the three clinical signs of respiratory disorders. These results suggest that both clinical signs and post-mortem inspection of lung lesions must be included in a welfare monitoring schemes for veal calves.
    Preventive Veterinary Medicine 02/2012; 105(1-2):93-100. · 2.39 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The mortality and morbidity of unweaned dairy calves and management practices that may impair calf health and welfare were surveyed on 115 farms in Canada (Quebec) and 60 farms in Central Europe (Austria and Germany) to examine whether outcome-based measures of calf health could be used to identify farms that use management practices that place calf health at risk. Quebec herds had higher juvenile mortality incidence than those in Central Europe. Juvenile mortality was poorly estimated by producers. Low levels of mortality did not include low levels of morbidity in the same herds. Health status was not necessarily associated with management practices generally recommended for health and welfare. Many management practices that may impair calf health and welfare were found in Quebec while only some were found in Central Europe; these were related to calving management and care of the newborn, colostrum management, calf-dam separation, calf feeding, weaning and calf housing. Inadequate recording of calf morbidity and mortality can be a problem in using recorded measures to assess the level of calf health on a farm. The recorded mortality and morbidity do not necessarily show the extent that producers use management practices that pose a risk to calf health.
    Animal welfare (South Mimms, England) 01/2012; 21(1). · 1.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The study aimed at assessing the prevalence of poor rumen development, presence of rumen plaques, rumen papillae hyperkeratinization, and abomasal lesions in veal calves and to investigate risk factors for their occurrence at the farm level. Within a wide cross-sectional study, a sample of 170 veal farms representative of the European veal meat production systems was considered in the 3 major producing countries (99 in the Netherlands, 47 in France, and 24 in Italy). An average of 59 ± 10 (SD) rumens and abomasa belonging to calves from a single batch per farm were inspected at the abattoir by trained observers to assess the incidence of these gastrointestinal disorders. Potential risk factors for their occurrence related to farm management, housing, and to the feeding plan were obtained by a questionnaire submitted to the stockperson. Prevalence of poor rumen development (almost no papillae present), rumen plaques, and hyperkeratinization were 60.4, 31.4, and 6.1% of rumens, respectively, whereas abomasal lesions in the pyloric area were recorded in 74.1% of abomasa. Independent variables related to the feeding system confirmed to be the main risk factors for the occurrence of gastrointestinal disorders in veal calves. However, additional risk sources for each given problem were identified among housing and management variables. The provision of a low amount of solid feed (≤ 50kg of dry matter/head per cycle) was a relevant risk for rumen underdevelopment. Rumen wall alterations (plaques and hyperkeratinization) and abomasal lesions were instead associated with the administration of large quantities of solids (151-300 kg of dry matter/head per cycle) in calves receiving milk replacer during the entire fattening cycle. Among the types of solid feed, cereal grain acted as a preventive measure for low rumen development, whereas it was a risk factor for the occurrence of rumen plaques, papillae hyperkeratinization, and abomasal lesions. Some housing and management options adopted to improve veal calf welfare (i.e., higher space allowance and use of heating) were associated with lower risk for gastrointestinal disorders.
    Journal of Dairy Science 02/2011; 94(2):853-63. · 2.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The objective of this study was to investigate inter-observer and test-retest reliability of different behavioural observations to be used in an on-farm, animal welfare monitoring system for veal calves. Twenty-three veal calf farms, varying in size, housing system, feeding regime and age of the calves were visited twice with two observers, simultaneously. Behavioural tests were conducted in eight pens per farm, measuring the response of calves to: a human entering the barn; a novel object; a passive, unfamiliar person; disturbance in the pen and an active approach by an unfamiliar and a familiar person. Furthermore, behaviour was recorded 20 min before and 20 min after feeding in eight other pens per farm. For all behavioural tests, inter-observer reliability was very high. Farm effects and test-retest reliabilities were high and significant for all behavioural tests, except for the test measuring response to disturbance in the pen. Although the active approach test with the familiar person was reliable, it was not feasible in practice due to the availability of the farmer. Since the active approach test with the unfamiliar person gave similar results, this test was recommended for an on-farm animal welfare monitoring system. For most behavioural elements recorded around feeding, farms differed significantly and inter-observer and test-retest reliabilities were high as well as being significant. The behavioural tests with entering the barn, novel object and unfamiliar person, and the behavioural observations before and after feeding were feasible and distinctive and reliable enough to be performed on-farm. These methods are promising tools to use as a monitor of animal welfare in veal calves.
    Animal welfare (South Mimms, England) 10/2009; 18(4):381-390. · 1.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Piglet crushing remains a major problem in pig production and is partly related to sow behavioural traits. The sows’ responses to the presence of humans around farrowing could partly contribute to piglet crushing through increased reactivity and getting up and lying down behaviour. The aim of the study was to determine if the sows’ behaviour observed during standard management procedures during gestation and after farrowing can be related with their reproductive performance including crushing levels. One hundred sows originating from a selection unit were observed before expected farrowing on their fear (withdrawal) response to human presence at feeding and their ease of transfer to the farrowing unit. After farrowing, their reaction was observed (latency to change position, number of postural changes) during a 5min period of piglet handling (tattooing, tail cutting) and through the number of postural changes for the next 3h. Parity influenced most of the behaviour observed during gestation, but not after farrowing. A high withdrawal response of sows tended to be correlated with higher transfer speed to the farrowing unit (P=0.10), was correlated with a shorter latency to change position and with more postural changes during piglet handling (P
    Applied Animal Behaviour Science - APPL ANIM BEHAV SCI. 01/2009; 119(3):151-157.
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    ABSTRACT: Piglet crushing remains a major problem in pig production. Reduced crushing might be obtained through genetic selection on sow behavioural traits. The aim of the study was to assess the relationship between behavioural responses at 6 months of age, around farrowing, and sows' reproductive performance including crushing levels. At 6 months of age, behavioural responses of 75 nulliparous sows were observed both during behavioural tests to human presence and to the presence of a novel object in their home pen, and their responses when placed in a weighing device. At first farrowing, nervousness of the sows was observed when placed in the farrowing crate 1 week before and the day of farrowing, as well as their fear responses when approached by a human from behind or at the front of the farrowing crate. At 6 months of age, escape from a human tended to be correlated with the reactivity in the weighing device (rs = 0.21, P = 0.09). Around first farrowing, the withdrawal reaction when a human approached at the front was correlated with the fear response when approached from behind and the nervousness of the sow in the crate (rs = 0.29, P < 0.05; rs = 0.37, P < 0.01). The fear response when approached from behind was correlated with nervousness in the crate and around farrowing (rs = 0.70, P < 0.001; rs = 0.25, P < 0.05), and nervousness in the crate was significantly correlated with the nervousness around farrowing (rs = 0.34, P < 0.01). The escape from a human at 6 months was correlated with withdrawal when approached from the front before farrowing (rs = 0.38, P < 0.01) and with nervousness of the sow in the crate (rs = 0.24, P < 0.05). The number of piglets crushed at first farrowing was correlated with the latency to approach a novel object at 6 months and nervousness around farrowing (rs = -0.27, P < 0.05; rs = 0.28, P < 0.05), and tended to be correlated with the escape behaviour from human at 6 months and withdrawal away from human presence before farrowing (rs = 0.21, P = 0.09; rs = 0.22, P = 0.08). These results suggest that behavioural responses to humans and during management practices of nulliparous sows at 6 months of age are, to some extent, related with their behaviour around farrowing and crushing levels of piglets at farrowing.
    animal 01/2009; 3(1):128-34. · 1.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The present paper describes the main procedures used to slaughter fowl, pigs, calves and adult cattle, sheep, and farmed fish, starting on the farm and ending with the death of the animal at the abattoir. It reviews the currently known causes of stress, indicated by behavioural and physiological measurements on the animal level, and by post-mortem muscle metabolism. During the pre-slaughter period, psychological stress is due to changes of environment, social disturbances and handling, and physical stress is due to food deprivation, climatic conditions, fatigue, and sometimes pain. The exact causes of stress depend, however, on the characteristics of each species, including the rearing system. For fowl, bird catching and crating, duration and climatic conditions of transport and of lairage and shackling are the main known pre-slaughter stress factors. For pigs, stress is caused by fighting during mixing of pens, loading and unloading conditions, and introduction in the restrainer. Handling and novelty of the situation contribute to the stress reactions. For veal calves and adult cattle, disruption of the social group, handling, loading and sometimes unloading conditions, fatigue, novelty of the situation and for calves mixing with unfamiliar animals are known stress factors. Gathering and yarding of extensively reared lambs and sheep causes stress, particularly when shepherd dogs are used. Subsequent transport may induce fatigue, especially if sheep are commercialised through auctions or markets. In farmed fish, stress is predominantly related to environmental aspects such as temperature, oxygen, cleanliness of the water and, to a certain extent, stocking density and removal of the fish from the water. If transport and lairage conditions are good and their durations not too long, they may allow pigs, calves and adult cattle, sheep, and fish to rest. For certain species, it was shown that genetic origin and earlier experience influence reactions to the slaughter procedure. Stunning techniques used depend on the species. Pigs and fowl are mostly electrically or gas-stunned, while most adult cattle are stunned with a captive bolt pistol. Calves and sheep may be electrically stunned or with a captive bolt pistol. Various stunning methods exist for the different farmed fish species. Potential causes of stress associated with the different stunning procedures are discussed. The paper addresses further consequences for meat quality and possible itineraries for future research. For all species, and most urgently for fish, more knowledge is needed on stunning and killing techniques, including gas-stunning techniques, to protect welfare.
    animal 10/2008; 2(10):1501-17. · 1.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A test aiming to measure calves’ responses to humans (“approach test”) was conducted in two steps: during the first step (approach phase) the calves’ reaction to the appearance of an unknown person (withdrawal or not) was observed during milk provision, during the second step (touch phase) the calves’ reaction to the outstretching of the arm and touching on the head was measured qualitatively on a scale from 1 (no withdrawal) to 4 (strong withdrawal). The repeatability of the withdrawal test was determined by performing the test twice with a 2-day interval on 150 calves. The reliability of the test was determined by comparing the responses of 22 calves to the approach test with their behaviour to humans during a longer test in an arena. For the approach phase, a high consistency was found between repetitions: calves that withdrew from the unknown person during the first observation, withdrew again the next time. For the touch phase, calves with either score 1 or 4 had the same score the following observation. However, responses of score 2 or 3 were not very consistent over time. The scores obtained in both the approach and touch phase of the test were strongly related with the calves’ responses to a person in an arena: calves who withdrew from the unknown person at the approach test showed a longer latency to interact, interacted less often and shorter with the unknown person when observed in the arena than did calves who did not withdraw. In conclusion, the approach test can be considered to be repeatable and reliable. Therefore, it can be used to determine the animal’s responsiveness to humans.
    Applied Animal Behaviour Science - APPL ANIM BEHAV SCI. 01/2003; 83(4):325-330.
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    ABSTRACT: In this study, we analysed the effects of social and human contact on calves' behaviour and stress responses. We also measured the effect of this contact on calves' reactions to nove conspecifics and novel humans. Sixty-four calves were housed either alone or in pairs and received either minimal human contact or 'additional' human contact (stroking and talking). At six, 10 and14 weeks of age, the behaviour of the calves was recorded in their home pens.Calves were then tested in an unfamiliar arena either alone, with an unfamiliar calf, or with an unfamiliar man, and in a Y-maze with one arm leading to a calf and the other to a man. An adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) challenge was performed in order to assess chronic stress responses. Compared with individually housed calves, pair-housed calves were more active and made fewer contacts with their neighbours when in their home pens; they were also less active in the arena, spent more time near the calf in the Y-maze, and had lower cortisol responses to ACTH. Calves that had received additional human contact interacted more with the man in the arena and had lower mean heart rates than those that had received minimal contact. This study confirmed that calves feel a need for social contacts and that pair-housing can lower the stress felt by calves separated from their conspecifics. Additional contact from stock persons increases calves' likelihood of approaching humans but cannot compensate for their lack of social partners. Hence, when calves are separated, the duration of the separation should be limited, and visual and physical contact with other calves should be provided.
    Animal welfare (South Mimms, England) 01/2003; 12(2). · 1.43 Impact Factor
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    B. J. Lensink
    01/2002;
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    ABSTRACT: The relationships between farmers' behavior toward veal calves, calves' responses to handling and transport, and veal meat quality were assessed. Two groups of 10 veal units were selected based on previous observed farmers' behavior toward the calves: one group consisted of farmers who had shown predominantly "positive" behavior toward the calves, and the other group of farmers had shown predominantly "negative" behavior. Calves were observed for their reactions to people at the unit, and 20 calves per veal unit were transported either directly to the slaughterhouse or subjected to additional transport consisting of a supplementary 20-min transport with additional unloading and loading. The effort needed to load the calves onto the truck and their behavior during loading was observed. During loading and unloading, and during lairage at the slaughterhouse, potentially traumatic incidents (falling down, hits against structures, slips) were recorded, and heart rate and cortisol measurements were taken. Carcasses were evaluated on their weight, color, conformation, pH, and bruise level. A meat sample was taken from the longissimus thoracis muscle for physical, chemical, and sensory analysis. Calves originating from "positive behavior" units showed fewer fear responses to people at the veal unit, needed less effort to be loaded to the truck, had lower heart rates during loading and unloading, and had fewer incidents at the slaughterhouse than calves from "negative behavior" units (P < 0.05). Carcasses from calves from "positive behavior" units were paler, and analyses of the meat sample revealed lower pH, moisture level, and redness compared to carcasses from calves from "negative behavior" units (P < 0.05). Additional transport led to a lower cortisol level after transport and to higher carcass pH values at slaughter compared to direct transport (P < 0.05) but did not affect meat quality. We concluded that farmers' positive behavior toward veal calves during rearing is likely to reduce the emotional responses of calves to handling and transport and to lead to fewer incidents, compared to negative behavior. This reduction of calves' emotional responses seems to be the reason for improved veal meat color.
    Journal of Animal Science 04/2001; 79(3):642-52. · 2.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigated the influence of stockperson's behaviour and housing conditions on calves' behavioural reactions to people, and behavioural and physiological reactions to handling and short transport. Sixty-four Finnish Ayrshire male calves were used; half of them were housed in individual pens, the other half were housed in group pens of two calves. In both housing conditions half of the calves received minimal contact from the stockperson, while the other half were stroked on their necks and shoulders for 90s a day, after milk meals. The effects of housing and contact with the stockperson on the responses of calves to people, either entering or approaching the pen, were studied. Furthermore, calves' behavioural and physiological (cortisol, heart rate) reactions to being loaded onto a truck, transported for 30min and unloaded were observed. When a person entered the home pen, calves housed by pairs took significantly more time to interact and interacted less frequently with the person than individually housed calves did (p<0.01). Calves that received additional contact interacted for longer time with the unfamiliar person than calves with minimal contact (p=0.02). When a person approached the front of the calves' pens, less withdrawal responses were shown by calves that had received additional contact (p<0.05) than those that had received minimal contact. When the calves were loaded onto the truck, it took more time and effort to load pair housed calves than individually housed calves (p<0.01) and less effort to load calves that had received additional contact (p<0.01) compared to those that had received minimal contact. During loading additional contact calves had lower heart rates (p<0.05) than those that had received minimal contact, while during transport pair housed calves had lower heart rates compared to individually housed ones (p<0.05). For all the observations performed, no interactions were found between housing conditions and human contact.It is concluded that, compared to calves housed individually, calves housed in pairs are less ready to approach humans and less easy to handle. Providing calves with regular positive contacts makes them less fearful of people and improves handling. Due to the greater difficulty in handling calves housed in groups, it is concluded that these animals need to have regular contact with humans.
    Applied Animal Behaviour Science 01/2001; 70(3):187-199. · 1.50 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We studied the importance of the stockperson's behavior on veal calf behavior using 22 veal calves housed in individual crates. Eleven calves received minimal contact from the stockperson, and the other 11 calves were stroked and allowed to suck the stockperson's fingers after each meal during the entire fattening period (21 wk). The effects of this additional contact with the stockperson on the calves' responses to people was studied, when in their home environment (crate) or outside their home environment (singly in a novel arena). When tested in their home environment, the calves receiving additional contact withdrew less from the approach of humans (familiar or unfamiliar) (P < .05) compared with control calves. When tested outside the home environment with a human (familiar or unfamiliar) standing motionless, calves that had received additional contact interacted more frequently and for a longer time with the humans and defecated less often compared with control calves (P < .05). In conclusion, being stroked and sucking the stockperson's fingers seemed to be experienced as positive by the calf, because they reduced withdrawal from and increased approaches to familiar and unfamiliar humans in familiar and unfamiliar environments. Such a lower reactivity to people could improve ease of handling, animal performance, and animal welfare.
    Journal of Animal Science 06/2000; 78(5):1213-8. · 2.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It has been demonstrated previously that regularly stroking and letting calves suck fingers leads to less avoidance and more approach behavior of the calves toward people. To examine whether these positive contacts affect the welfare and productivity of calves and the quality of veal meat we used 22 veal calves housed in individual crates. Half of them received minimal contact with the stockperson (controls), and the other half were given additional gentle contacts around meals, by stroking the calves and allowing them to suck the stockperson's fingers, during the entire fattening period (21 wk). Welfare was assessed through behavioral reactivity (reactions to handling, to surprise stimuli, and to novelty), neuroendocrine responses to stress (cortisol in response to an ACTH challenge, catecholamine-synthesizing enzymes), and health (number of medical treatments, abomasal lesions). Calf productivity was assessed through growth rates and meat quality through glycolytic potential (an estimator of resting glycogen level in muscle), pH, and color. Calves that received gentle contacts were less agitated (P < .01) and tended to defecate less (P = .08) when handled in a cart on wheels than the control calves, but no treatment effects were found in reactivity to novelty and surprise stimuli, responses to ACTH, and catecholamine synthetic potential. Calves given gentle contacts had fewer abomasal lesions than controls (0/11 vs 4/11, P = .05). The glycolytic potential of the semimembranosus muscle was higher in calves that received gentle contacts than in controls (172.6 vs 154.1 micromol/g, P < .05), but no treatment effects were observed on meat pH, meat color, or growth rates. It is concluded that gentling veal calves reduces their reactions to handling. Gentle contacts reduce the reaction to transport shown by differences in glycolytic potential. In addition, the reduction in reactions to handling and the decreased incidence of abomasal lesions can contribute to an improvement of the calves' welfare.
    Journal of Animal Science 06/2000; 78(5):1219-26. · 2.09 Impact Factor
  • H. Leruste, A.H. Bunod, B.J. Lensink, Reenen, C.G
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    B. J. Lensink

Publication Stats

236 Citations
26.19 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2012
    • Universität Kassel
      Cassel, Hesse, Germany
    • Groupe ISA
      Lille, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France
  • 2011–2012
    • University of Padova
      • Department of Animal Medicine, Production and Health MAPS
      Padova, Veneto, Italy
  • 2000
    • French National Institute for Agricultural Research
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France