Park, R. M., Foster, M., Daigle, C. L. 2020. A scoping review: The impact of housing systems and environmental features on beef cattle welfare. Animals 10(4), 565.
Housing systems and environmental features can influence beef cattle welfare. To date, little information has been synthesized on this topic. The aim of this scoping review was to examine the relationship between housing and welfare status, so that beef cattle producers and animal scientists can make informed decisions regarding how their housing choices could impact beef cattle welfare. Housing features were categorized by floor type, space allowance and shade availability, as well as the inclusion of enrichment devices or ventilation features. Evaluation of space allowances across feedlot environments determined behavioral and production benefits when cattle were housed between 2.5 m2 to 3.0 m2 per animal. Over 19 different flooring types were investigated and across flooring types; straw flooring was viewed most favorably from a behavioral, production and hygiene standpoint. Veal calves experience enhanced welfare (e.g., improved behavioral, physiological, and performance metrics) when group housed. There is evidence that the implementation of progressive housing modifications (e.g., shade, environmental enrichment) could promote the behavioral welfare of feedlot cattle. This review presents the advantages and disadvantages of specific housing features on the welfare of beef cattle.