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Magrin, Luisa (2018) Health and welfare problems of finishing beef cattle: lameness and possible preventing solutions. [Ph.D. thesis]

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Abstract (italian or english)

The general purpose of this PhD thesis was to analyse the impact on beef cattle health and welfare of some housing and flooring solutions mainly adopted in the intensive rearing systems. In particular, it aimed at investigating claws health status of intensively finished beef cattle belonged to different breeds (Charolaise, Limousine and Holsteins) and housed on different flooring systems (deep litter, fully concrete slatted floor and rubber covered slatted floor). A further aim was the testing of possible preventing solutions against lameness. The thesis was divided in 6 chapters:
A general introductive chapter (Chapter 1) focused on the beef cattle production system in Europe, and in Italy in particular way. Moreover, it identified the most relevant housing and management factors that could impair the welfare of finishing beef cattle.
In the light of the rare published research concerning the claw disorder distribution in finishing beef cattle, the first step consisted in a post mortem inspection at the slaughterhouse that allowed to assess the claw condition of a large number of finishing beef cattle batches (Chapter 2). In particular, we assessed after trimming the prevalence of specific claw disorders and their location on the sole in hind feet of beef cattle which arrived at slaughter with no signs of impaired locomotion. Non-infectious disorders resulted the most common diagnoses among batches, mainly on the lateral claws and in the heel-sole junction area.
The second research aimed at assessing the prevalence of lameness, its severity degree (mild or severe) and its time of onset during finishing. This study focused the most prevalent intensive beef production system operating in Italy that consists of Charolais bulls fattened in deep litter or fully slatted floor pens (Chapter 3). Severe lameness events were always recorded in the last part of the fattening. Fully slatted floor increased the prevalence of severe lameness and the relative risk of early culling compared to deep litter. An increased space allowance for bulls in fully slatted floor acted as preventive measure against both mild and severe lameness.
Considering alternative housing solutions to the concrete fully slatted floor, the third study aimed to assess whether growth performance, health, behaviour and claw condition of finishing bulls belonging to two beef breeds with different slaughter weight like Charolaise and Limousine, would be affected by their housing on a concrete or on a rubber covered slatted floor (Chapter 4). On a perspective of the development of welfare friendly flooring systems tailor-made for specific beef cattle breeds, the use of rubber covered floor as an alternative to the concrete slatted floor should be advised only for bulls like Limousine that are finished at a final body weight (BW) around 600 kg. Despite the positive growth performance, health and welfare of Charolais bulls finished at a final BW above 700 kg were impaired by their housing on both concrete or rubberized slatted floors.
In order to prevent the negative impact of the new rubberized surfaces on the cleanliness of the animals, the last research was addressed to investigate the effects of an increased drainage area on hygiene, body condition, behaviour, claw- and leg health of fattening bulls kept in fully slatted pens equipped with rubber mats (Chapter 5). This 4%-unit increase was not enough to improve the hygiene of the floor, and thus of the animals even if it reduced the number of carcasses penalised at the slaughter for unacceptable hygiene. However, regardless of drainage area, several signs of good comfort on rubberized surfaces were recorded in any group of bulls such as few abnormal locomotor and transition movements, frequent social interactions and relaxing lying postures.
Successively, general discussion and conclusions focused the main outcomes (Chapter 6). Although our findings provide new insights about the relevant impact of lameness in beef cattle farms, additional investigations are need to identify other potential predisposing factors on farms for specific claw disorders and consequently the best housing, flooring and management solutions for bulls during their finishing.

Abstract (a different language)

L’obiettivo generale di questa tesi di dottorato è stato quello di analizzare l’impatto sulla salute e sul benessere del vitellone da carne di alcune soluzioni di stabulazione e pavimentazione prevalentemente adottate nei sistemi intensivi. In particolare, mirava ad investigare lo stato di salute degli unghioni di bovini da carne in fase di finissaggio di diverse razze (Charolaise, Limousine and Holsteins) e allevati su diversi sistemi di pavimentazione (lettiera permanente, grigliato in cemento e rivestito in gomma). Mirava poi a testare possibili soluzioni preventive alla zoppia. La tesi è divisa in 6 capitoli:
Un capitolo introduttivo (Capitolo 1) è focalizzato sui sistemi di allevamento del vitellone da carne in Europa, con particolare interesse all’Italia. Vengono inoltre identificati i maggiori fattori di rischio per il benessere del vitellone legati alla stabulazione e al management.
Alla luce della scarsa conoscenza sulla distribuzione delle lesioni podali nel vitellone, il primo passo ha previsto un’ispezione post mortem al macello degli unghioni di un ampio numero di partite di vitelloni (Capitolo 2). Dopo il pareggio funzionale, è stata valutata la prevalenza di problemi podali e la loro posizione soleare in piedi posteriori di bovini da carne che arrivavano al macello senza segni evidenti di zoppia. Le alterazioni podali non-infettive risultavano le più comuni tra le partite, per lo più negli unghioni laterali e nell’area di giunzione bulbo-suola.
La seconda ricerca mirava alla valutazione della prevalenza di zoppia, la sua severità (lieve e grave) e il momento della comparsa durante il ciclo. Essa considerava il prevalente sistema di produzione in Italia che consiste nell’allevamento di vitelloni Charolaise su lettiera permanente o su grigliato in cemento (Capitolo 3). Eventi di zoppia grave sono sempre stati registrati nell’ultima parte del ciclo. La pavimentazione in grigliato ha aumentato la ricorrenza degli eventi gravi di zoppia e il relativo rischio di riforma precoce rispetto alla lettiera permanente. Un aumento della disponibilità spazio/capo sul grigliato ha ridotto l’incidenza di entrambe le zoppie, lievi e gravi.
Considerando soluzioni di pavimentazione alternative al grigliato in cemento, il terzo studio mirava a valutare se le performance di crescita, la salute, il comportamento e la condizione podale di vitelloni appartenenti a due razze da carne aventi differenti pesi di macellazione come lo Charolaise e il Limousine possano essere influenzate dal sistema di stabulazione in grigliato con o senza gomma (Capitolo 4). Con la prospettiva di sviluppare sistemi di stabulazione welfare friendly adatti a specifiche razze da carne, l’uso del grigliato in gomma come alternativa al grigliato in cemento dovrebbe essere consigliato solamente per vitelloni come i Limousine che vengono macellati ad un peso finale di circa 600 kg. Nonostante le positive performance di crescita, la salute e il benessere di vitelloni di razza Charolaise macellati ad un peso finale superiore ai 700 kg risultavano compromessi in entrambi i sistemi di stabulazione, su grigliato cementato o su quello gommato.
Al fine di prevenire l’impatto negativo delle nuove superfici gommate sulla pulizia degli animali, l’ultimo studio ha testato gli effetti sull’igiene e sul benessere di vitelloni da carne di un certo incremento dell’area di drenaggio di una pavimentazione in grigliato con tappetini in gomma (Capitolo 5). Questo incremento del 4% non è risultato sufficiente a migliorare l’igiene del pavimento e degli animali, sebbene abbia ridotto il numero di carcasse penalizzate al macello per un livello di pulizia inaccettabile. Tuttavia, indipendentemente dall’area di drenaggio, sono stati registrati molteplici segni di benessere legati alla stabulazione su gomma come la ridotta frequenza di movimenti anomali durante la locomozione e le transizioni, frequenti interazioni sociali e posizioni rilassanti durante il decubito.
A seguire, una generale discussione è focalizzata sui maggiori risultati (Capitolo 6). Sebbene i nostri risultati abbiano apportato nuove conoscenze sull’impatto che la zoppia ha sugli allevamenti di bovini da carne, ulteriori studi sono necessari per identificare altri potenziali fattori predisponenti ai problemi podali a livello aziendale e di conseguenza le migliori soluzioni di stabulazione e management per i vitelloni durante la fase di finissaggio.

EPrint type:Ph.D. thesis
Tutor:Cozzi, Giulio
Ph.D. course:Ciclo 31 > Corsi 31 > ANIMAL AND FOOD SCIENCE
Data di deposito della tesi:29 November 2018
Anno di Pubblicazione:26 November 2018
Key Words:lameness; beef cattle; claw disorder; health; welfare zoppia; vitellone da carne; lesioni podali; salute; benessere
Settori scientifico-disciplinari MIUR:Area 07 - Scienze agrarie e veterinarie > AGR/19 Zootecnica speciale
Struttura di riferimento:Dipartimenti > Dipartimento di Agronomia Animali Alimenti Risorse Naturali e Ambiente
Codice ID:11482
Depositato il:06 Nov 2019 13:58
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