Cortese, M., Brščić, M., Ughelini, N. et al. 2020. Effectiveness of stocking density reduction on mitigating lameness in a Charolais finishing beef cattle farm. Animals 10(7), 1147.
This study aimed at assessing whether a reduction in stocking density (SKD) would mitigate lameness and positively affect the performance and health of Charolais bulls in an Italian commercial farm. Bulls were distributed in groups of 10 or 8 animals/pen for high (HD) or low density (LD) corresponding to an individual space of 3.5 or 4.7 m2, respectively. Bulls were fitted with collars that measured rumination time and activity. Three 8-h observational sessions were conducted to record behaviors. Data about health conditions were collected daily. No differences were found in the animals’ performance. However, performance results might have been impaired by the culling rate experienced during the trial, which prevented from keeping a consistent SKD. Behaviors did not differ between groups, except for rumination time, which was higher for LD bulls during the third observation (p < 0.05). However, rumination time, recorded by collars, did not vary among treatments. There were no differences in the percentage of sick or lame bulls, but the percentage of animals treated repeatedly due to relapse was higher for the HD group (p < 0.05). It was concluded that a larger space allowance could improve the health of bulls kept on fully slatted floors.