Aigueperse, N., Boyer, V., Vasseur, E. 2023. How outing conditions relate to the motivation of movement-restricted cattle to access an outdoor exercise yard. Behavioural Processes 213, 104957.

Assessing animal motivation to access a given resource is one method available to evaluate what to provide in the living environments of captive animals. Providing increased opportunities for movement can be seen as an important source of enrichment, but we need to know the point of view of the animal. The objective of our study was to test a novel combination of behaviours in order to assess the motivation of cows to access an outdoor exercise paddock. Three trials were conducted, each enrolling 15–16 tie-stall-housed cows as a model for movement-restricted animals. Cows were provided with access to an outdoor exercise yard 5 days/week for the duration of the trial, each trial presenting different conditions such as paddock size, duration of access and animal handling. We recorded the trips’ durations and cows’ behaviours during the trips going to (go-out) and coming back (go-in) from the paddock. LMr comparisons on PCA were used to assess cow motivation profiles. The same two dimensions of speed and stop quality emerged from the PCA in all three trials, showing the method’s robustness. Additionally, three motivation profiles were established, representing how the cows’ motivation was affected by the conditions prevailing in each trial.

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