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Humans and livestock animals at work: toward a multidisciplinary approach of relational practices

INRA Prod Anim 25(2) 159-168


1 INRA, UMR1213 Herbivores, F-63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France

2 Clermont Université, VetAgro Sup, UMR Herbivores, BP 10448, F-63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France

3 IFIP, Institut du Porc, La Motte au Vicomte, BP 3, F-35651 Le Rheu, France

4 INRA, UMR1348 Physiologie, Environnement et Génétique pour l’Animal et les Systèmes d’Elevage, F-35590 Saint-Gilles, France

5 Agrocampus Ouest, UMR Physiologie, Environnement et Génétique pour l’Animal et les Systèmes d’Elevage, F-35590 Saint-Gilles, France

6 CCMSA, Les Mercuriales – Tour Ponant, 40 rue Jean Jaurès, F-93547 Bagnolet, France

7 ITAVI, UMT BIRD, Centre de Tours, F-37380 Nouzilly, France

8 AgroParisTech, UFR Sociologie, 16 rue Claude Bernard, F-75231 Paris, France

9 Institut de l'Elevage, Monvoisin, F-35652 Le Rheu, France

10 ISARA-Lyon, 23 rue Jean Baldassini, F-69364 Lyon, France

11 Chambre Régionale d'Agriculture de Bretagne, pôle régional de recherche porcs-aviculture, F-35042 Rennes, France

12 Université de Rennes 1, UMR Ethologie Animale et Humaine, campus de Beaulieu, 263 Avenue du General Leclerc, F-35042 Rennes, France

13 Institut de l'Elevage, SIM, 149 rue de Bercy, F-75595 Paris, France


The legal status of the animal defined as a "sentient being" involves taking into account both the breeder's and animals' points of view for considering work in livestock productions and the human-animal relationship. Farmers' work efficiency, quality of life and animal welfare are targeted. This review paper focuses on a multidisciplinary approach, in particular between the social sciences and ethology in order to understand and improve husbandry practices critically affecting the human-animal relationship. On the one hand, a working time analysis focused on the human-animal contact, reveals a strong diversity among production systems and farms. The diversity in breeders' profiles, attitudes towards animals and their work with animals and in their husbandry strategies are reported. On the other hand, ethology elaborates a conceptual framework based on the fact that farmers and animals build their relationship from the repeated interactions they display. This relationship allows them to predict the issue of the future interactions. Observing the animal's responses to the human represents a synthetic evaluation tool for evaluating their relationship. Ethological studies showed that humans integrate the relational world of animals. This paper points out the interest of describing and evaluating the existing farmers' relational practices towards animals, and developing new and beneficial ones both for farmers and animals.