About this Research Topic
Rapid advances in technology are allowing for a greater understanding of animal behavior at the level of the individual. Paralleling these changes, increasing farm size and the number of animals housed per caretaker requires a greater ability to understand the interactions of individuals within the group and their relative welfare, and new monitoring techniques. While there is a great deal of information about development of individual-level responses and consequent welfare, these reports are often based on observations conducted within small groups and/or controlled settings which may have little relevance to the size and interactions characteristic of large, commercial groups. In response to these challenges, the animal welfare and behavior research community has entered a new frontier of research combining traditional understanding and approaches with novel technology and statistical methods.
The Research Topic seeks to bring together the latest efforts in assessing individual-level responses towards the overall goal of understanding basic behavioral needs, animal interactions, and the means to improve welfare within large commercial groups. While the underlying focus is assessment of behavior, the collection is intended to include methodologies of data visualization, statistical analysis, and technology across all livestock species.
· Although there is no exact definition of 'large' in terms of group size, the group size should be large enough that the nature of individual behavior and animal interactions is different than smaller groups. For example, hens in small group structures (e.g. estimated at less than 100 animals) will have a relatively rigid hierarchical social structure. Hens in larger groups will adopt an alternative social structure where less overall aggression is seen with certain hens adopting defensive postures for certain key resources.
· Individual-level observations should be made at the level of the animal, ideally in a longitudinal manner.
· Although reviews will be considered, original manuscripts will be given preference.
· All articles should be relevant to behavior and welfare of commercial livestock species.
Keywords: animal behavior, animal welfare, animal interactions, animal hierarchical structure, animal social structure, livestock, livestock behavior
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.