The solution of animal problems that occur on the farm requires a holistic and multidisciplinary orientation and analysis, as well as the acquisition of new investigatory tools by both veterinarians and animal scientists. Field studies may be modeled under more controlled laboratory conditions, but the most relevant investigations must take place on the farm, and the first level of analysis should be ethological. Domestic animal behavior can be monitored and quantified like any other factor in the animals' environment; yet it has been virtually ignored in the development of new livestock husbandry systems.
The relationships between husbandry systems, disease problems, and behavioral factors are extremely complex but are known to be interrelated and interdependent. It is postulated that severely constricting husbandry practices can generate anomalous behavior- a phenomenon termed ethostasis. Applied ethology now has a vital and central role to play in investigating the problems that have been created by modern intensive livestock production.
The purpose of this overview, therefore, is to delineate some of the husbandry factors that can give rise to behavioral anomalies, and to describe various categories of anomalous behavior that are of diagnostic value in clinical appraisals of stressful husbandry. Ready identification may facilitate recognition and correction of problems that may lead to lowered productivity, diseases, and economic losses; it may also foster concern for the animals' welfare from an ethical, as well as an economic, perspective. These circumstances highlight some of the contemporary animal husbandry problems that warrant further research and quantitative analysis.
Fraser, A.F., & Fox, M.W. (1983). The effects of ethostasis on farm animal behavior: A theoretical overview. International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems, 4(1), 59-70.