Acharya, R. Y., Hemsworth, P. H., Coleman, G. J. et al. 2022. The animal-human interface in farm animal production: Animal fear, stress, reproduction and welfare. Animals 12(4), 487.
A negative human-animal relationship (HAR) from the perspective of the animal is a limiting factor affecting farm animal welfare, as well as farm animal productivity. Research in farm animals has elucidated sequential relationships between stockperson attitudes, stockperson behaviour, farm animal fear behaviour, farm animal stress physiology, and farm animal productivity. In situations where stockperson attitudes to and interactions with farm animals are sub-optimal, through animal fear and stress, both animal welfare and productivity, including reproductive performance, can be compromised. There is a growing body of evidence that farm animals often seek and enjoy interacting with humans, but our understanding of the effects of a positive HAR on stress resilience and productivity in farm animals is limited. In this review, we explore the pathways by which stress induced by human-animal interactions can negatively affect farm animal reproduction, in particular, via inhibitory effects on the secretion of gonadotrophins. We also review the current knowledge of the stockperson characteristics and the nature of stockperson interactions that affect fear and physiological stress in farm animals. The contents of this review provide an insight into the importance of the HAR on farm animal welfare and reproduction while highlighting the gap in knowledge regarding the effects of a positive HAR on farm animals.