Behavioral Requirements

Behavioral requirements are even more difficult to assess than either physical or social requirements. The idea of behavioral needs is not new; most would agree that animals may have a need to scratch in response to an itch, or to urinate in response to a full bladder. The idea is more difficult to grasp when we consider things such as the need of a horse to graze if all its nutrients are provided. And, do sows need to build a nest if a nest is already provided? It is clear that horses do have a need to graze. Horses provided with all their required nutrients, but not allowed to graze will find substitute foraging activity. Sows, too, would appear to have a need to build a nest, because sows placed in barren environments will perform vacuum activities, by going through the motions of rooting at the bare floor and grabbing the bars of the pen as farrowing approaches. Thus, it is apparent that livestock have behavioral needs, although less is understood of these needs and what the prevention of the performance of specific behaviors means to the physical or psychological well-being of the animal. Jensen and Toates[7] provide a thorough discussion of behavioral needs.

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