Napolitano, F., Serrapica, F., Braghieri, A. et al. 2019. Human-animal interactions in dairy buffalo farms. Animals 9(5), 246.
This study aimed to assess the relationship between stockperson behavior and buffalo behavior. The research was carried out in 27 buffalo farms. The behavior of stockpeople and animals during milking and the avoidance distance at the feeding place were recorded. Recordings were repeated within one month to assess test-retest reliability. A high degree of test-retest reliability was observed for all the variables with Spearman rank correlation coefficients (rs) ranging from 0.578 (p = 0.002, df = 25) for the number of kicks performed during milking to 0.937 (p < 0.001, df = 25) for the percentage of animals moving when approached by ≤ 0.5 m. The number of negative stockperson interactions correlated positively with the number of kicks during milking (rs = 0.421, p < 0.028, df = 25) and the percentage of animals injected with oxytocin (rs = 0.424, p < 0.027), whereas the percentage of negative stockperson interactions correlated positively with the percentage of buffaloes moving when approached at a distance >1 m (rs = 0.415, p < 0.031, df = 25). In a subsample of 14 farms, milk yield was correlated positively with the number of positive interactions (rs = 0.588, p < 0.027, df = 12) and correlated negatively with the number of steps performed by the animals during milking (rs = −0.820, p < 0.001, df = 12). This study showed that the quality of stockpeople interactions may affect buffalo behavior and production.