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Links between specialization in the finishing of bulls, mixing, farmers' attitudes towards animals and the production of finishing bulls: a survey on French farms

Abstract : In France, beef bulls are finished by breeder-finishers who produce calves and then fatten them, or by specialized finishers who fatten bulls that they buy. According to previous results on both dairy cows and pigs, breeding on the farm promotes positive attitudes of farmers towards animals, which can lead to improved animal health and growth. The mixing of bulls on their arrival at a specialized unit could stress them and thus impair health and growth. We hypothesized that breeder-finishers have more positive attitudes towards bulls and their work with bulls than specialized finishers, and that positive attitudes lead to better production, whereas mixing may be counterproductive. We observed 1038 bulls (67 groups) finished by breeder-finishers or specialized finishers in mixed and unmixed groups. Using a questionnaire, we assessed farmers' beliefs about the sensitivities of bulls, their attitude towards contacts with bulls, their beliefs about successful factors in finishing, and job satisfaction. We recorded the number of clinical signs and weight gain of the bulls. Specialized finishers tended to have more negative contacts with bulls than breeder-finishers (hairspP=0 center dot 06). Poor health of bulls was associated with (i) a positive attitude towards gentle contacts with bulls (hairspP < 0 center dot 01), (ii) job satisfaction (hairspP=0 center dot 01), and (iii) was negatively correlated to beliefs in bulls being difficult animals (hairspP=0 center dot 09). Fast growth of bulls was associated with job satisfaction (hairspP < 0 center dot 01). Unmixed bulls grew faster than mixed bulls (hairspP=0 center dot 05). We conclude that in finishing bulls, it is production results that have an impact on attitudes, rather than the opposite: the need for close contacts with bulls resulting from health problems engenders more positive attitudes of farmers towards their animals, and good production results increase job satisfaction. Variations in production results between breeder-finishers and specialized finishers seem to lie more in the fact that the latter always use animals mixed at the beginning of the finishing period - with mixing impairing growth - than in the attitudes of farmers towards animals and their work.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-02656422
Contributor : Migration Prodinra <>
Submitted on : Friday, May 29, 2020 - 11:27:38 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, March 20, 2021 - 9:44:03 PM

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Luc Mounier, S. Colson, M. Roux, Herve Dubroeucq, Alain Boissy, et al.. Links between specialization in the finishing of bulls, mixing, farmers' attitudes towards animals and the production of finishing bulls: a survey on French farms. Animal Science, Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2006, 82 (4), pp.561-568. ⟨hal-02656422⟩

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