Studies on the influence of human characteristics and training on stockperson work performance and farm animal behaviour
The human-animal relationship in agriculture has been shown to be an influential factor affecting farm animal behaviour, welfare and productivity. It has been demonstrated that stockperson behaviour is related to animal fear and productivity and stockperson attitudes have been found to be strong predictors of stockperson behaviour. However, other job-related human factors may also be influenced by attitudes, thus affecting stockperson work performance. Inter-relationships between stockperson attitudes and behaviours and other job-related human factors were determined. The effects of human behaviour on the behavioural response of pigs towards humans was further investigated and the role of training to modify job-related factors, such as technical knowledge was examined. Stockperson behaviour was shown to influence the behavioural response of pigs towards humans and behavioural responses of pigs towards humans could be conditioned within 4 weeks of regular handling. Negative behaviour by the stockperson was shown to be the most aversive human-animal interaction, while injection treatments were moderately aversive in comparison. The negative effects of human behaviour and husbandry procedures were not found to be alleviated by positive handling or environmental enrichment. The behavioural response of pigs towards humans was found to be influenced by social learning processes and stimulus generalisation of the behavioural response of pigs to humans was found to be unaffected by location. Other job-related human factors, such as technical knowledge, empathy and job satisfaction were positively related to stockperson attitudes and behaviour. Due to established sequential relationships between stockperson attitudes and behaviour and pig behaviour and productivity, this was viewed as indicative of the effect of these job-related variables on pig behaviour and productivity.