Effect of additional outdoor yard on behaviour of lactating domestic goats (Capra hircus) in different seasons
This study covered the effects of an improvement of the breeding environment on the behaviour of lactating goats. Two groups of 25 lactating Saanen goats were used: animals were reared in indoor pen (1.6 m2/head) without (control IP group) or with (experimental OY group) access to an outdoor yard (1.0 m2/head). For the trial, carried out in two different periods (winter and spring) 5 days lasting, a specific ethogram including feeding, resting, moving and play fighting (mock butting) or socio-positive (nuzzling) social behaviour was developed. Animals’ behaviour was continuously video monitored. Goats in experimental OY group showed greater moving (P < 0.01), a tendency to less feeding and resting (P < 0.10). Social behaviour (butts + nuzzles), in both periods, showed significant differences (P < 0.01) between the two groups while as for the comparison among periods of the year, within the group, there were meaningful differences only for OY group (P < 0.01). Experimental OY group’s social behaviour analysis, between periods, revealed a significant difference in the outdoor yard only. On the other hand, the differences between indoor and outdoor were significant for both the periods (P < 0.01). Butts and nuzzles of the goats in the control IP group are statistically different only in the second period (P < 0.05). The OY group showed higher nuzzling in both periods, even though it was statistically confirmed only for the first one (P < 0.05). Comparing the OY group butts and nuzzles between the two periods, only butts proved statistically different (P < 0.05) according to an improvement in climatic conditions. Giving the goats the possibility to use an outdoor yard, their competitiveness increases. As for the use of the space by OY group, staying in the indoor pen and in the outdoor yard as well as the looking out activity time suggests that the behaviour of goats was influenced by climatic conditions with regard to the utilization of the outdoor yard exclusively (P < 0.01). Goats that have an external space available are more active in socialization and show greater disposition to perform their normal, natural and complete behaviour patterns.
KeywordsLactating Saanen goat Social relationship Butting Nuzzling
This work was financially supported by the Regione Lazio within the Project “OPTOZOOTEC”. Many thanks to “Azienda Agricola Manzi Annunziata” (Montefiascone, Viterbo) for their assistance during the entire experimentation period carried out at their breeding farm.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
Authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.
- Canali E (2008) Il concetto di benessere nelle produzioni animali. Benessere animale e sistemi zootecnici alpini, Saint Vincent, Aosta, Italia, Quaderno SooZooAlp. 5:9–17Google Scholar
- Council Regulation (EC) No 1804 (1999) Supplementing regulation (EEC) No 2092/91 on organic production of agricultural products and indications referring thereto on agricultural products and foodstuffs to include livestock productionGoogle Scholar
- Houpt KA (2005) Domestic animal behavior for veterinarian and animal scientists, 4th edn. Blackwell Publishing, AmesGoogle Scholar
- Kilgour R, Dalton C (1984) Livestock behaviour a pratical guide. Westview Press, BoulderGoogle Scholar
- McGregor BA (2002) A extent and source of short and cotted mohair RIRDC Research Paper, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Burton A.C.T., 02/108 RIRDC, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
- Nicolussi P (2008) Il benessere degli animali di allevamento. Il mensile del medico veterinario 66–78Google Scholar
- Panzera M (2013) Sickness and behaviors as indicators of animal suffering. In Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism. Inside the emotional lives of nonhuman animals, vol. I. 1(1), 23–31. LED on line, Milano. ISSN 2280-9643Google Scholar
- SAS, Statistical Analysis System Institute (2001) SAS user’s guide, statistics. Sas Institute Inc., CaryGoogle Scholar
- Terramoccia S, Bartocci S, Di Giovanni S, Negretti P, Bianconi G (2009) Analisi comportamentale di caprini e ovini eseguita con monitoraggio video. In: Monitoraggio video dei comportamenti e termorilevazione, in condizioni di allevamento mirate al benessere e alla salute degli animali, e analisi di immagine computerizzata per gli aspetti morfologici correlati con le produzioni di qualità, Viterbo, ItaliaGoogle Scholar
- Tønnesen HG, Bøe KE, Andersen IL (2008) Group size and social interactions in goats. In: Proceedings of the 18th Nordic Symposium of the ISAE, Oscarsborg, Norway, pp 16–18Google Scholar
- Tosi M, Canali E, Gregoretti L, Ferrante V, Rusconi C, Verga M (2001) A descriptive analysis on welfare indicator measured in Italian dairy farms: preliminary result. Acta Agric Scand Sect A Anim Sci 30:69–72Google Scholar
- Tosi M, Canali E, Mattiello S, Ferrante V, Carenzi C, Verga M (2003) Il benessere dei suini e delle bovine da latte: punti critici e valutazioni in allevamento, vol 53. Fondazione Iniziative Zooprofilattichee e Zootecniche, BresciaGoogle Scholar