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Effects of enriched environment on behaviour, growth and health of goat kids before weaning


Goat kid-rearing environment in farming system tend to be barren. Safety concerns may be expressed by farmers concerning the addition of enrichments, especially concerning hanging objects in the pens. However, providing adapted enrichments seem important to allow kids to promote their natural behaviors and behavioral flexibility. The first aim of this study was to assess the effect of an enriched environment on goat kids’ behavior, growth and health. The second was to determine which enrichment were the most used, how, and if this evolved over time. The experiment took place in a commercial farm. Forty kids artificially reared were divided in 2 groups and followed from 1 week to 8 weeks of age. One group had only access to a plastic can, whereas the other group had access to a plastic can, a platform, a seesaw, a chewing disk, a brush and a plastic ball. Once a week, kids were weighted, inspected for sanitary issues and injuries. Behavioral observations were also realized once a week, during two periods (morning and afternoon) of 3 hours through instantaneous scans at 5-min intervals for posture and activity by two observers. During the same period a third observer performed all occurrences observation to count play behaviors, agonistic-like interaction and fight. These periods were also filmed to analyze the use of enrichment, using instantaneous scans at 2-min intervals. Two-way mixed Anova as well as non-parametric test were used to analyze the data. The treatment had no effect on the average daily gain of kids between week 1 and 8. No injuries due to the enrichments were observed. Over the trial, kids in the enriched environment spent more time exploring and showed a higher occurrence of plays behavior (p-value <0.001). All enrichments were used. Over the experimentation, the most used object was the platform (46.2% of the scans in mean; p<0.001) due to the possibility to climb above and rest under and above at several. The second most used object was the seesaw (4.69%), then the plastic can (2.67%), in fourth position the brush (2.24%) and the chewing disk (1.45%) and finally the plastic ball (0.67%). This work showed that enrichments are a way to improve kids’ rearing condition. Some precautions have to be taken. The seesaw had to be repaired during the essay. Solid, secured and adapted enrichments have to be imagined in order to last over time and resist to the use.
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Dates and versions

hal-04210360 , version 1 (18-09-2023)


  • HAL Id : hal-04210360 , version 1


Marianne Berthelot, Ariane Andrade, Manon Delalande, Raphaëlle Botreau, Véronique Deiss, et al.. Effects of enriched environment on behaviour, growth and health of goat kids before weaning. The 56th Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology, Aug 2023, Tallinn, Estonia, France. ⟨hal-04210360⟩
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