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Single or mixed: Comparing behaviour of single- and multi-species groups of young cattle and broiler chickens on pasture

Schanz, Lisa; Hintze, Sara; Hübner, Severin; Barth, Kerstin and Winckler, Christoph (2021) Single or mixed: Comparing behaviour of single- and multi-species groups of young cattle and broiler chickens on pasture. In: Proceedings of the 54th Congress of the ISAE, p. 236.

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The practice of keeping two or more species together has received little attention in research. Here we present a first explorative study comparing behaviour on pasture in multi-species groups of cattle and broiler chickens to single-species groups. In four 6-week cycles, two single-species groups (ten cattle and approximately 55 broilers, respectively)and one multi-species group (ten cattle with approximately 55 broilers) were observed on pasture. Twice a week, once in the morning and once in the evening, ten animals per species and group were directly observed using focal animal sampling for 6 minutes each. Behaviours including e.g. feeding, locomotion and interactions were recorded as frequencies or durations. Inter-observer-agreement between two independent observers was moderate to high. Due to the small sample size (n = 4 cycles) we present our results descriptively.
Cattle in multi-species groups spent on average 20 % ± 39 (mean, sd) of the time lying, while the percentage of lying time amounted to 30 % ± 42 in single species groups. Broilers in multi-species groups were out of sight (i.e., in hut)for 16 % ± 32 of the time and broilers in single-species groups for 25 % ± 36. Cattle in multi-species groups were feeding 63 % ± 41 (single-specie groups: 60 % ± 42), standing 9 % ± 2 (6 % ± 2) of their time and interacting with conspecifics 7 ± 13 (6 ± 13) times per hour. Broilers in multi-species groups were lying 19 % ± 30 (single species groups: 14 % ± 29) and foraging 50 % ± 36 (48 % ± 36) of their time and performed comfort behaviour 2 ± 5 (1 ± 5)times per hour.
While we cannot draw conclusions based on statistical differences, these first findings indicate that animals in mixed groups may influence the behaviour of the other species. For example, broilers may perceive cattle as structural elements of the pasture and therefore spent more time outside and less time in the hut than broilers in single-species groups. Cattle in multi-species groups may be lying less than cattle in single-species groups, due to the activity of the broilers. However, further research is necessary to confirm these first results and to investigate the reasons for such differences.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Poster
Keywords:multi-species, livestock, organic
Agrovoc keywords:
mixed farming
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems
Animal husbandry > Production systems > Beef cattle
Animal husbandry > Production systems > Poultry
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > Austria
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > Europe
Research affiliation: European Union > CORE Organic > CORE Organic Cofund > Mix-Enable
European Union
Germany > Other organizations
Horizon Europe or H2020 Grant Agreement Number:727495
Deposited By: Schanz, Lisa
ID Code:42420
Deposited On:29 Oct 2021 13:24
Last Modified:26 Feb 2023 14:14
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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