Ninomiya, S. 2019. Grooming device effects on behaviour and welfare of Japanese black fattening cattle. Animals 9(4), 186.
In livestock farming, a stark or barren environment compromises animal welfare. Environmental enrichment has been used to address the issue. For this study, after fattening cattle were provided with a grooming device (a brush), its effect on animal self-grooming and welfare were investigated. For Research trial 1 and 2, respectively, 28 and 11 Japanese Black steers were observed. Three or four of the animals were group-housed in a pen. For Trial 1, half of the animals were provided with a brush. The animals’ behaviour, carcass weight, and Viscera disease were recorded. Enrichment animals (E) performed self-grooming and scratching of the animals’ body on the brush and pen structures more than control animals (C) did (mean time budgets, 3.34% (SD = 2.48) in E and 0.89% (SD = 0.81) in C, GLMM, z value = 8.28, p < 0.001). The number of animals in which viscera disease was detected after slaughter was lower in E than in C (E = 0, C = 4, a Fisher’s exact probability test, p = 0.03). In Trial 2, brush use behaviour was observed continuously for 72 h. The observation revealed that the animals scratched various body parts on the brush. Results show that providing a brush as environmental enrichment improves welfare by satisfying the motivation of fattening cattle to perform self-grooming.