Grazing is thought to contribute to behavioral and clinical aspects of cattle welfare. However, little information is available about the effect of grazing on cattle health. The aim of this review was to evaluate the impact of grazing on the physiological, immunological, and nutritional status of cattle and to discuss the means by which we should assess the health of grazing cattle. Due to a mismatch between the nutritional supply of forage and the demand of grazing cattle, grazing often induces an imbalance of protein and energy intake and a negative energy balance in cattle, which impairs hormone (insulin and IGF-1) production, fertility (ovarian cyclicity resumption, pregnancy, embryonic development, and oocyte maturation), and immunity. Grazing also affects the circulation of immune-related cells; however, the impact of grazing on immune function is unclear. In contrast, evidence shows that grazing in diverse vegetation improves the mineral intake balance and reduces oxidative stress in cattle. The impact of grazing on cattle health varies with the grazing conditions, including the pasture condition and outside environment, implying that a stereotypical view of grazing is not beneficial for cattle health. Thus, multiple parameters and a comprehensive approach are crucial to evaluating the health of grazing cattle.
This research is to explore a more suitable structure of animal-assisted activity (AAA) for both animals and humans. In this research, AAA were conducted by domestic dogs and university student volunteers in ‘Student Salon’, a free access room with student counselling service of Iwaki Meisei University. The AAA were carried out four times with two dogs participating per activity, and no activity exceeded 30 minutes in duration. For participant students, each session was conducted in semi-closed style (pre-registration recommended). As a whole programme, a total number of students was 40 (10.0 on average), which contained around 30-40% repeaters in each session. 31 out of 40 students were regular visitors to our counselling service. The AAA were conducted in that the students remained seated on the floor to limit their movement while the dogs could move freely around the room, allowing them to choose to stay near the students or wander around. Whole activities were video-taped. For the students, 3 to 4 staffs of the student counselling service, who meet and care for them daily at the Student Salon, conducted a participant observation. It was found that the AAA significantly increased the frequency of prosocial behaviour and emotional interaction among the students, which were assisted by the dog activity. For participant dogs, the duration of time (%) of each dog to interact with the students was evaluated, and the temperaments of the dogs were assigned through interviews with the owners and behavioral assessment. The duration of time that each dog interacted with the students varied according to its temperament, dogs with high sociality spending longer with the students than those with low sociality. Measurement of the concentrations of oxytocin and cortisol in the saliva of the students and the dogs pre- and post-activity using enzyme immunoassay showed that oxytocin concentrations were highly variable among both groups of participants. However, the cortisol concentrations in the saliva significantly decreased in both groups after the AAA, with low sociality dogs having a lower post-/pre-activity ratio of cortisol concentration than those with high sociality. These findings suggest that the students enjoyed the AAA even though the dogs took an initiative of interacting all the time, and that this approach reduced the burden on participant dogs as evidenced by the fact that the activities relieved tension in participant dogs.
Recently, several zoos have aimed to improve the welfare of captive animals by adopting certain feeding enrichments, particularly to address oral stereotypy in giraffes. Research has revealed that the utilization of certain feeding enrichments, such as browsing enrichment, is effective for preventing oral stereotypy. However, feeding of browsing enrichment may be difficult in winter, although its effect is not evident in this season based on previous studies. Therefore, the weight of tree feed foraged by the giraffes and their behavior, including oral stereotypy, was observed in all seasons of tree feeding. Three giraffes were observed in the Kyoto City Zoo. No significant change was observed in the weight of foraged tree feed throughout the seasons, with a similar weight of food intake observed in all seasons. Although all giraffes expressed oral stereotypy, the behavior increased significantly in winter. Furthermore, the oral stereotypy frequency was not significantly correlated with the weight of foraged tree feed, suggesting that some other factor strongly influenced the frequency, such as the climate differing from that of the giraffes’ original habitat. Therefore, further research is required to elucidate the factors that cause oral stereotypy.