Effects of Feeding Intensity and Ca:P Ratio on Foot Welfare in Blue Foxes (Vulpes lagopus)

DOI: 10.4236/ojas.2014.44020   PDF   HTML   XML   2,516 Downloads   3,314 Views   Citations

Abstract

The aim was to clarify effects of ad libitum and restricted feeding with Ca:P ratios on foot welfare in blue foxes. Experiment was started at weaning on August 6th and finished at pelting on November 26th, 2013. Treatments were: 1) restricted feeding, Ca:P ratio 1.5:1; 2) restricted feeding, Ca:P ratio 2.9:1; 3) restricted feeding Ca:P ratio control level; 4) ad libitum feeding, Ca:P ratio 1.5:1; 5) ad libitum feeding, Ca:P-ratio 2.9:1; 6) ad libitum feeding Ca:P ratio control level. Body growth variables, feed intake and welfare variables were measured. The behaviour was video recorded. Foreleg carpal joint angle as an indicator of leg weakness and the fox’s ability to move were evaluated. During weeks 32 - 35 and 37 - 47 animals from restricted groups ate 60% - 65% and 67% - 68% of the given feed, respectively. Body weight gain was faster in foxes fed ad libitum than with a restricted diet (P < 0.001). At pelting, waistline and neck circumference were significantly (P < 0.001) larger in ad libitum groups compared to restricted ones. The body condition score was significantly (P < 0.001) larger for ad libitum animals. Body length was greater for ad libitum than for restricted groups (P < 0.05). Significant differences were not found in body size variables between Ca:P ratios. During the course of experiment, bending of carpal joints increased in each group (P < 0.001). Most bended joints were found at final scoring. Significant differences were noted in the angle of joint between ad libitum and restricted groups (P < 0.05). Pronounced difficulties in locomotor activity were not found. Differences between the groups were slight in stick, floorball and capture tests. No pain reaction was evident during sensitivity test. Foot welfare problems were multi-factorial problems.

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Korhonen, H. , Eskeli, P. , Lappi, T. , Huuki, H. and Sepponen, J. (2014) Effects of Feeding Intensity and Ca:P Ratio on Foot Welfare in Blue Foxes (Vulpes lagopus). Open Journal of Animal Sciences, 4, 153-164. doi: 10.4236/ojas.2014.44020.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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