Effect of driver behaviour, driving events and road ...

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Title Effect of driver behaviour, driving events and road type on the stability and resting behaviour of sheep in transit
Author(s) M. S. Cockram, E. M. Baxter, L. A. Smith, S. Bell, C. M. Howard, R. J. Prescott, M. A. Mitchell
Journal Animal Science
Date 2004
Volume 79
Issue 1
Start page 165
End page 176
Abstract The aim of this project was to examine the relationships between driver behaviour and driving events during a journey and the behavioural responses of sheep to these events. Driving style can have a major influence on the welfare of the animals by affecting the risk of injury and by disturbing the ability of the sheep to rest. Two drivers each drove groups of 10 sheep in a 5.5-tonne, single-deck, non-articulated livestock vehicle on five 7-h road journeys consisting of minor roads, main single carriageways and a motorway. The driver, the driver's view through the windscreen, the speedometer and the sheep were video recorded. Differences in driving style were identified as differences in vehicle speed, rapid braking and the number of corners taken with high cornering g-force. Differences in driving style had a slight effect on the frequency of losses of balance by the sheep and a more significant effect on the degree of disturbance to the sheep and on their ability to rest during the journey. Losses of balance were common, but falls were rare. About 80% of the losses of balance could have been caused by driving events, such as acceleration, braking, stopping, cornering, gear changes and uneven road surfaces. Only about 22% of driving events were followed by a loss of balance. It is likely that driving events were also responsible for many interruptions to both lying behaviour and rumination. Clear benefits of motorway driving compared with single carriageway driving were fewer losses of balance, more lying down, more rumination and fewer disturbances amongst the sheep. This study provides evidence that would be useful for driver training and education to promote careful driving as a means of ensuring the welfare of animals in-transit. The quality of the journey experienced by sheep during transport is dependent upon a number of factors that can be influenced by the driver of the vehicle.

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