An assessment of the aversive nature of an animal management procedure (clipping) using behavioral and physiological measures

Yarnell, K. ORCID: 0000-0001-7464-8764, Hall, C. ORCID: 0000-0001-5916-311X and Billett, E. ORCID: 0000-0001-8245-6519, 2013. An assessment of the aversive nature of an animal management procedure (clipping) using behavioral and physiological measures. Physiology & Behavior, 118, pp. 32-39. ISSN 0031-9384

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Animal management often involves procedures that, while unlikely to cause physical pain, still cause aversive responses. The domestic horse ( Equus caballus ) regularly has excessive hair clipped off to facilitate its use as a riding/driving animal and this procedure causes adverse behavioral responses in some animals. The aim of this study was to compare behavioral and physiological measures to assess the aversive effect of this procedure. Ten horses were selected on the basis of being either compliant (C: n = 5) or non-compliant (NC: n = 5) during this procedure. The horses were subjected to a sham clipping procedure (SC: where the blades had been removed from the clippers) for a period of ten minutes. Measures were taken pre, during and post SC (−10 min to +30 min) and mean values calculated for ALL horses and for C and NC separately. Behavioral activity was scored (scale 1-5) by twenty students from video footage in (phase/group-blind scoring). Heart rate (HR), salivary cortisol and eye temperature were monitored throughout the procedure. The NC horses were found to be significantly more behaviorally active/less relaxed throughout the trial than C horses(p b 0.05) with the greatest difference occurring during the SC procedure (p b 0.01). NC horses were more active/less relaxed during, compared with pre or post SC (p b 0.05), but showed no behavioral difference pre and post SC. HR of the NC horses was higher than that of the C horses throughout the trial but only significantly so after 10 min of SC (p b 0.01). ALL horses showed significant increase in HR between +5 and +10 min into the procedure (p b 0.05). There was a significant increase in salivary cortisol concentration in ALL horses post procedure (p b 0.01) with levels peaking at 20 minute post SC. No significant differences in salivary cortisol concentration between C and NC were found at any stage of the trial. Eye temperature increased significantly in ALL horses during SC, peaking at +10 min into the procedure (p b 0.05) and then decreased substantially when SC had ceased (p b 0.01). Although no significant differences were found between C and NC per se, there was a significant interaction between group and phase of trial (p b 0.05) with the NC group showing a greater decrease in eye temperature post SC. There was a significant positive correlation between changes in salivary cortisol concentration and eye temperature (p b 0.01) but no correlation between any of the other measures. Although the behavioral response of C and NC to this procedure was significantly different the physiological responses indicated that ALL horses found the procedure aversive. Eye temperature could be used as an objective and immediate measure of how an animal is responding to a specific situation in order to evaluate management procedures and adapt them where appropriate to reduce the negative impact on animal health and welfare.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Physiology & Behavior
Creators: Yarnell, K., Hall, C. and Billett, E.
Publisher: Elsevier
Date: 13 June 2013
Volume: 118
ISSN: 0031-9384
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 09:52
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2017 09:43

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