Ethology: Importance in ecological agriculture F12
Fölsch, Detlef W.; Hörning, Bernhard;
University of Kassel, Faculty of Agriculture, International Rural Development and Environmental Protection, Section: Farm Animal Behaviour and Management, D-37213 Witzenhausen
|Biological agriculture understands itself as a movement that values soil, plants but also animals and gives them the dignity and respect they deserve. The motivation for that is the awareness, that animals are creatures, too. Connected with that knowledge is the responsibility to keep animals in appropriate housing. These housing systems have to differ markedly from intensive husbandry systems in which most farm animals are kept. Environmental protective and sustainable keeping of animals according to their wellbeing, requires knowledge of the following subjects: a) The characteristics of the environment in which the ancestors of our domestic animals lived and those that are essential for the needs of the animals and their wellbeing. b) The size and range of a herd, meaning the number of individuals as well as the number of animals in different sex- and age-groups. c) The behaviour of individuals in different age-groups, their social interactions within the herd as well as reactions to other beings (animal/human), especially reactions to predators like for example reactions of chickens to fox and birds of prey. Together with the biotic factors mentioned under a - c the behaviour of animals is markedly influenced by seasonal changes in daylight-intensity and -duration and by climate. The development of young animals, their self-preservation and reproduction as substantial characteristics of life shows itself in morphology, physiology and behaviour - like position of ears, ruffled feathers or hair that stands on end, size and colour of comb in chickens or turkeys, movements of the body with its limbs and from sounds the animal makes. Ethologists relate the observed behaviour patterns and sounds made by animals to the following questions, i.e.:- What kind of surrounding is an animal looking for to give birth or lay an egg? - What interaction of the mother-animal is directed towards her offspring? Species specific behaviour, healthy development and successful reproduction are criteria for developing and structuring housing and outside run that are appropriate for keeping farm animals.