Effects of human-animal relationship on welfare and productivity in cattle and pigs – a review

Camilla Munsterhjelm


The human-animal relationship is shown to affect behaviour, welfare and productivity of production animals. Touch is the most important part of human-animal communication. Problems associated with animal handling are mostly due to fear, which many farm animals feel towards humans. Fear is a powerful stressor. Fearfulness is an individual and stable trait, whereas behaviour can be changed by learning. Very frightening situations create persistent imprints in the brain. Experiences early in life infl uence fearfulness and neural development. Handling of animals infl uences productivity in the dairy, pig and poultry industries. Poor handling may create a chronic stress response. An important factor predicting behaviour of livestock handlers is the attitude of the stockperson towards interaction with animals. The manner in how young animals are handled infl uences meat quality and their ability to cope with stress at slaughter.