Factors affecting the welfare of calves in auction markets

Viviana M. Bravo*, Toby G. Knowles, Carmen Gallo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
199 Downloads (Pure)


Marketing cattle through auctions increases marketing time, exposing animals to more stressful events. Within Chile, 37% of auctioned cattle are “calves”. To assess factors that may be affecting the welfare of calves during movement and penning, twelve markets were visited to evaluate behavioral indicators of welfare, handling, and facilities. Behavioral indicators during movement were classified into movement and other behaviors, and indicators during penning were classified into positive or negative behavioral welfare indicators. For each group of calves, an index was calculated based on a proportion of observed behavioral indicators. Statistical models were built to identify variables associated with changes in these indices. Presence of inappropriate driving, inadequate lighting, and slippery floor was associated with a movement index increase (poorer welfare). Negative tactile interactions were associated with an increase, and group size was associated with a decrease in movement index and other behavior indices. During penning, not mixing animals from different sources was associated with an increase and stocking density with a decrease in positive welfare index. Number of auctioned cattle, observation number, and not mixing with incompatible and/or with calves from different sources were factors associated with a decrease in negative welfare index, and the presence of males was associated with an increase. Behavioral welfare indicators were mostly associated with handling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number333
Number of pages12
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2019


  • Auction market
  • Behavior
  • Calves
  • Facilities
  • Handling
  • Movement
  • Penning
  • Welfare


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