Animal Welfare Volume 12 2003 Abstracts


G Mason* and K E Littin

Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre, Massey University, New Zealand

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 1-37

Rat and mouse control methods potentially affect the welfare of many millions of animals every year. Here, the humaneness of the methods used in the UK and the USA is assessed in terms of their speed and mode of action, the appearance and behaviour of affected animals, experiences of human victims, long-term effects on animals that survive exposure, and welfare risks to non-target animals. Several methods emerge as relatively humane: cyanide, alpha-chloralose, electrocution traps and well-designed snap traps all usually kill swiftly and with little distress. Preventative methods such as rodent-proofing are also humane, as well as an essential - and probably under-used - component of effective control. However, anticoagulant poisons, the most common means of controlling rodents, generally take several days to kill, during which time they cause distress, disability and/or pain. Sub-lethally affected animals are also likely to experience haemorrhages and their sequelae, and carnivores feeding on affected rodents may be secondarily poisoned. The acute rodenticides zinc phosphide and calciferol are also generally inhumane, the former typically causing severe pain for several hours, and the latter, pain and illness for several days. Sticky boards, to which rodents become adhered by the feet and fur until they are killed or simply eventually die, also raise very serious welfare concerns. This evidence highlights remarkable paradoxes in the way society treats different classes of animal, and argues for more education, legislation and research targeted at reducing the vast numbers of rodents currently killed inhumanely.

Keywords: animal welfare, alpha-chloralose, anticoagulants, cyanide, humane rodent pest control, sticky boards, zinc phosphide

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J J Cooper* and M C Appleby

Institute of Ecology Resource Management, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK

* Current address: Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Lincoln, Riseholme Park, Lincoln LN22LG, UK

Current address: The Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L Street NW Washington, DC 20037, USA

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 39-52

Twelve Isa Brown hens (Gallus gallus domesticus) were trained to open a locked door for access to a pen containing an enclosed nest box (`nest test`) and to return to a home pen containing food, water, litter and a perch (`home test`). The door was connected to a computer-controlled load cell, which recorded work exerted on the door and unlocked the door when the hen had exceeded a predetermined workload. Following training, the workload was set at 10Ns, and hens received one nest test per day at 80, 60, 40 or 20min prior to oviposition, and then one home test per day after 1, 2, 3 or 4h confinement in the nest pen. As oviposition approached, hens showed a higher work-rate for access to the nest pen, showed a shorter latency to use the nest box and spent a greater proportion of their visit time in the nest box. Hens also worked harder for the home pen, showed a lower latency to feed and spent more time feeding after their return as period of confinement increased. The hens` work-rate for the nest pen at 40min prior to oviposition was comparable with their work-rate for the home pen after 4h confinement, while their work-rate was at its highest in nest tests at 20min prior to oviposition. The technique appears to be a valid means of assessing the importance of environmental resources the values of which vary with time. The results suggest that hens place a higher value on gaining access to a discrete nest-site prior to oviposition than they do on gaining access to food following 4h food deprivation.

Keywords: animal welfare, behavioural priorities, feeding motivation, laying hens, nesting behaviour, operant

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T C Krohn*§, A K Hansen and N Dragsted

Centre for Bioethics and Risk Assessment, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Bulowsvej 15,

DK-1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark

* Scanbur BK A/S, Lellinge, Denmark

Division of Laboratory Animal Science and Welfare, Department of Pharmacology and Pathobiology, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Bulowsvej 15, DK-1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark

Safety Pharmacology, Novo Nordisk A/S, Copenhagen, Denmark

§Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 53-62

Various tools have been developed over previous years to study the welfare of laboratory animals. These include preference tests, which are commonly used to evaluate housing environments. Preference tests, however, have some pitfalls: they supply information only on the animals` present preferences, and they allow the animal the choice only between the options offered. Other methods based upon the collection of clinico-chemical data require handling of the animals, which can be stressful in itself. An alternative may be to use telemetry to measure the changes in physiological parameters caused by different environmental conditions. The aim of this study was to use telemetry to evaluate the short-term impact of housing conditions on rodents. We monitored heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature in rats kept on three different types of flooring - bedding, grid floors and plastic floors. The study revealed significant differences in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature between rats housed in the three conditions, indicating that both grid floors and plastic floors are more stressful for the animals than bedding. The observed differences did not diminish over the two-week observation period. The grid-floor housing induced elevations in blood pressure and heart rate. Blood pressure remained elevated even when the animals were returned to standard bedding, whereas the heart rate declined back to its original value immediately in response to this shift. This study shows that telemetry is a very effective tool but that it needs integrating with other methods; in addition, a greater understanding of the biological significance of the changes in cardiovascular parameters is required before the hypothesis that these changes represent an indication of distress can be accepted.

Keywords: animal welfare, heart rate, housing conditions, rats, systolic blood pressure, telemetry

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Effect of catching broilers by hand or machine on rates of injuries and dead-on-arrivals

U Knierim* and A Gocke

Institute of Animal Hygiene, Animal Welfare and Behaviour of Farm Animals, School of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Buenteweg 17p, D-30559 Hannover, Germany

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 63-73

Catching of broilers is the first stage in the transfer of birds to the slaughterhouse. The catching process entails a high risk not only of stress but also of injury and death to the birds. Associated injury and mortality rates have important implications not only for animal welfare but also for the economics of the procedure. Catching machines are advantageous with regard to labour costs and standards, and they may also reduce damage to the birds. In the present investigation the use of a sweeper-type catching machine was compared with manual catching under commercial conditions, data being collected during 43 mechanical and 40 manual catching events evenly distributed over one year. Dead-on-arrival rates were recorded, and 108068 mechanically caught and 87916 manually caught birds were examined for injuries on the shackles at the processing plant. Injury rates of all types were significantly reduced after mechanical catching. This improvement was highest with respect to leg injuries. There was no significant difference in the number of dead-on-arrivals except during the spring period, when there were higher losses of birds caught mechanically; this was thought to be attributable to climatic conditions. The loading of the transport containers with equal numbers of birds and the initial familiarisation period of the catching team with the machine are potentially problematic factors with potential for improvement. The catching machine investigated here, with its lower risk of injury to broilers than commercial manual catching, has the potential to limit impairment of bird welfare during catching.

Keywords: animal handling, animal welfare, broiler, catching machine, dead on arrival, injury

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Voluntary animal welfare assessment of mass-produced farm animal housing equipment using a Standardised Procedure

U Knierim*, D Hesse, E von Borell, H-J Herrmann§, C Muller#, H-W Rauch, N Sachser¥ and F Zerbe

Animal Welfare Committee of the German Agricultural Society

(Deutsche Landwirtschafts-Gesellschaft, DLG)

* Institute of Animal Hygiene, Welfare and Behaviour of Farm Animals, School of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Buenteweg 17p, D-30559 Hannover, Germany

Competence Centre for Animal Housing and Engineering, Uelzen, Germany

Institute of Animal Breeding and Husbandry, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

§ Deutsche Landwirtschafts-Gesellschaft (DLG), Gross-Umstadt, Germany

# Trenthorst 15, 23847 Westerau, Germany

Institute for Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry Celle, Federal Agricultural Research Center (FAL), Germany

¥ Department of Behavioural Biology, University of Munster, Germany

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 75-84

Assessment of mass-produced animal-housing equipment can serve as a basis for improving animal welfare. A number of European countries have adopted various legal approaches to such assessment. In Germany, welfare assessment of housing equipment is voluntary, but minimum standards can be set by regulation for the assessment procedure and for the qualifications of the persons involved. From a scientific perspective, the time and resource constraints pose some problems, particularly as they apply to a voluntary procedure. For reasons of practicability, certain compromises will be required. Nevertheless, it is important to ensure that each assessment procedure is based upon scientific principles and considers animal welfare aspects to a sufficient extent. A proposal for the minimum standards of an assessment procedure has been elaborated by the Animal Welfare Committee of the German Agricultural Society (Deutsche Landwirtschafts-Gesellschaft, DLG), a shortened version of which is presented here. The animal welfare impact of such a regulated but voluntary procedure will be less than that of an obligatory assessment; however, the relatively flexible approach may still significantly contribute to the improvement of welfare aspects of livestock housing.

Keywords:animal welfare, animal welfare assessment, cattle, horses, pigs, poultry

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L A Rabin

Department of Ecology and Evolution, State University of New York, Stony Brook, USA

Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: L A Rabin, Animal Behavior Graduate Group, c/o Department of Psychology, One Shields Avenue, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA; email:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 85-94

Behavioural management in zoos is often practiced within the confines of environmental enrichment, a well-known method which attempts to increase the welfare of captive animals. For the successful conservation and reintroduction of threatened or endangered species, however, it is also important to manage behaviour in such a way as to maintain behavioural diversity. The development of natural behaviour management (NBM) programs is advocated in this paper. These programs will act to maintain behavioural diversity in captivity and will encourage behaviour to be displayed in appropriate contexts through exposure of captive animals to naturalistic stimuli. The importance of developing appropriate antipredator and predation behaviours will be discussed in order to demonstrate how NBM strategies differ from, and can even conflict with, environmental enrichment strategies undertaken for welfare reasons.

Keywords: animal welfare, antipredator and predation behaviour, captive breeding, exsitu conservation, predator/prey recognition, environmental enrichment

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J M MacCaluim*, S M Abeyesinghe, R P White and C M Wathes

* Institute of Ecology and Resource Management, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH93JG, UK

Silsoe Research Institute, Wrest Park, Silsoe, Bedfordshire MK45 4HS, UK

Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 95-107

Characterisation of the effect of transport on the welfare of fowl requires common currency methods that can compare the effects of diverse stressors using the same unit of measure. Aversion of broiler chickens (42±1 days old) to vibrational and thermal stressors was investigated in a continuous free-choice procedure. Each choice-chamber had four compartments, connected via a central zone, offering a thermal stressor (T: 40° C, relative humidity 21%), a vibrational stressor (V: 2Hz, 1ms–2), concurrent vibrational and thermal stressors (VT), or no applied stressors (N). In experiment1, there were no significant effects of stressor on the latency to leave the compartments after initial introduction (n=24). In experiment2, 12 subjects were introduced individually to a chamber for 4h during each of a control and two treatment sessions. The results indicated that chickens did not avoid vibration, but significantly avoided the thermal stressor overall (T and VT; P<0.001). As no interactive effect of the stressors was observed, all avoidance of the combined stressors can be attributed to the effects of the thermal stressor alone. Further work is required to establish ways in which delayed stressors can be studied using behavioural methods before common currency methods can be practicable.

Keywords: animal welfare, concurrent stressors, aversion, broiler chickens, vibration, temperature

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M Studnitz*, K Hjelholt Jensen, E Jorgensen and K Kjaer Jensen§

* Department of Animal Health and Welfare, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Research Centre Foulum, 8830 Tjele, Denmark

Department of Agricultural Systems, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Research Centre Foulum, 8830 Tjele, Denmark

§ Olgod Kommune, Vestergade 10, 6870 Olgod, Denmark

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 109-118

Outdoor sows with nose rings can perform most of their natural behavioural activities except rooting. The prevention of rooting through surgical intervention (nose ringing) may be detrimental to welfare, although the behavioural and welfare consequences of rooting deprivation are not well documented. The present experiment examines exploratory behaviour in unringed, ringed and deringed gilts by repeatedly exposing the gilts to a sandbox supplied with bark chips. Four months prior to the experiment, 16 gilts, eight with nose rings and eight without, were housed in four fields. Over a period of 12days, the 16 gilts, in pairs from the same field, were walked to the sandbox; each gilt visited the sandbox six times in total. After deringing of the ringed gilts (and a control procedure for the unringed gilts), all of the gilts were exposed to the sandbox twice. During each visit, the exploratory behavioural patterns of rooting, sniffing, manipulating, and chewing were observed using 30s scan sampling. The ringed gilts showed no rooting behaviour in the sandbox; on the other hand, their mean frequency of chewing behaviour was significantly higher than that of the unringed gilts (19.89 versus 13.54; P<0.05). When all of the exploratory behavioural patterns were summed, no significant differences were found between ringed and unringed gilts. On the second day after deringing, the previously ringed gilts started to root, and no significant difference in the incidence of rooting behaviour between unringed gilts and newly deringed gilts was found. We discuss whether rooting behaviour can be substituted by chewing in order to explore an environment. Gilts that are prevented from rooting are found to explore as much as rooting gilts, and they achieved an adequate knowledge of the sandbox (as demonstrated by the fact that they did not show increased exploration after deringing), although rooting was the preferred exploratory behaviour. In this study, we did not find serious symptoms of chronically reduced welfare as a result of nose ringing.

Keywords: animal welfare, exploration, gilt, nose ring, rooting, behavioural substitution

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P R Scott

Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9RG, UK

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 119-122

A questionnaire survey of farm experience, undertaken during lambing time in the year 2000 by 95 second-year veterinary undergraduate students, highlighted numerous areas of concern. On those farms attended, more than one third of shepherds (32; 34%) neither washed their hands in an approved scrub nor used arm-length disposable plastic gloves before attempted correction of a lambing problem. Sheep received a prophylactic antibiotic injection after an assisted lambing on just 33 farms (35%), while the majority of farmers (62 farms; 65%) treated only those ewes that became sick some days after assisted lambing. Veterinary assistance was requested to only 22 of 359 (6.1%) dystocia cases from a sample population of 79610 lowground ewes. When lambs could not be delivered by farm staff the ewes were either humanely destroyed (65) or injected with antibiotics but subsequently died because of ensuing toxaemia from the emphysematous lambs inutero (272).

Keywords: animal welfare, dystocia, sheep

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Corr S A*, Gentle M J, McCorquodale C C and Bennett D

* Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield, Herts AL97AT, UK

Roslin Institute, Roslin, Midlothian EH259PS, UK

Division of Small Animal Clinical Studies, University of Glasgow Veterinary School, Bearsden Road, Glasgow G611QH, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 145-157

This study compares various morphometric features of two strains of broilers, selected and `relaxed` (ie random-bred), raised under two feeding regimes, ad-libitum-fed and restricted-fed. We consider the possible consequences of the different body shapes on the musculoskeletal system. The ad-libitum-fed selected birds reached heavier bodyweights at younger ages, had wider girths, and developed large amounts of breast muscle which probably displaced their centre of gravity cranially. At cull weight, they had shorter legs than birds in the other groups and greater thigh-muscle masses; therefore, greater forces would have to be exerted by shorter lever arms in order to move the body. The tarsometatarsi were broader, providing increased resistance to greater loads, but the bones had a lower calcium and phosphorus content, which would theoretically make them weaker. Many of these morphological changes are likely to have detrimental effects on the musculoskeletal system and therefore compromise the walking ability and welfare of the birds.

Keywords: animal welfare, gait, lameness, morphology, musculoskeletal, poultry

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Corr S A*, Gentle M J, McCorquodale C C and Bennett D

* Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield, Herts AL97AT, UK

Roslin Institute, Roslin, Midlothian EH259PS, UK

Division of Small Animal Clinical Studies, University of Glasgow Veterinary School, Bearsden Road, Glasgow G611QH, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 159-171

This study tests the hypothesis that growth rate and bodyweight affect walking ability in broilers by comparing objective measurements of the spatial and temporal gait parameters of several groups of birds. Two strains of birds were used (relaxed and selected), raised on two feeding regimes (ad-libitum and restricted), and culled at the same final bodyweight (commercial cull weight of 2.4kg). The ad-libitum-fed selected birds walked more slowly, with lower cadences, and took shorter steps. The steps were wider, and the toes were pointed outwards, resulting in a wider walking base. They kept their feet in contact with the ground for longer periods, having longer percentage stance times, shorter percentage swing times and increased double-contact times compared to the relaxed birds. These changes serve to increase stability during walking and are a likely consequence of the morphological changes in the selected broiler - in particular, the rapid growth of breast muscle moving the centre of gravity forward, and the relatively short legs compared to their bodyweight (see Corr etal, pp145-157, this issue). This altered gait would be very inefficient and would rapidly tire the birds, and could help to explain the low level of activity seen in the modern broiler.

Keywords: animal welfare, gait, lameness, morphology, musculoskeletal, poultry

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Cat housing in rescue shelters: a welfare comparison between communal and discrete-unit housing

D S Ottway* and D M Hawkins

Environmental Sciences Research Centre, Anglia Polytechnic University

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:Department of Life Sciences, Anglia Polytechnic University, East Road, Cambridge CB11PT, UK

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 173-189

Cats living long-term (over one month) in shelters were assessed for behavioural indicators of stress, using a stress scoring method in combination with behavioural observation. It is hypothesised that because of the inappropriate social grouping of unrelated adult cats and group instability, communal housing creates more stress than discrete-unit housing. Seventy-two cats were observed: 36 were housed communally with unfamiliar conspecifics, and 36 were housed in discrete units, either alone or with other previously familiar conspecifics. The mean stress score was greater in communal housing than in discrete-unit housing. Stress scores range from 1 to 7, with 1 indicating no stress experienced, and 7 indicating extreme stress. Individual scores showed that cats in discrete units, in comparison to those in communal housing, gained a significantly higher percentage of observations in the score2 category, indicating that no stress was being experienced. Cats in communal housing gained a significantly higher percentage in the score4 category (stressed). Score5 was found exclusively in communal housing, but only in 2% of instances. Extreme stress was not found in cats housed under either condition. Cats in the different types of housing differed in their frequencies of hiding, play, sleeping/resting in close contact with one another, and agonistic behaviour. There was no difference between housing types in frequency of eating, drinking, grooming, and toilet use. In this study, cats housed communally experienced moderately higher levels of stress than cats housed in discrete units. Further research is recommended to determine the effect on stress levels of longer shelter residence time and of changes in group size and/or density.

Keywords: animal welfare, cat, communal vs discrete unit housing, group instability, rescue shelter, stress

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S Raussi*, B J Lensink§#, A Boissy§, M Pyykkonen and I Veissier§

Agrifood Research Finland (MTT), Agricultural Engineering Research (Vakola), 03400Vihti, Finland

University of Helsinki, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine/Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, 00014Helsinki, Finland

§ INRA, Centre de Clermont-Ferrand/Theix, URH-ACS, 63122 Saint-Genes-Champanelle, France

# Present address: Institut Superieure d`Agriculture, 59046 Lille cedex, France

¶ Present address: Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Finland

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 191-203

In this study, we analysed the effects of social and human contact on calves` behaviour and stress responses. We also measured the effect of this contact on calves’ reactions to novel conspecifics and novel humans. Sixty-four calves were housed either alone or in pairs and received either minimal human contact or ‘additional’ human contact (stroking and talking). At six, 10 and 14 weeks of age, the behaviour of the calves was recorded in their home pens. Calves were then tested in an unfamiliar arena either alone, with an unfamiliar calf, or with an unfamiliar man, and in a Y-maze with one arm leading to a calf and the other to a man. An adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) challenge was performed in order to assess chronic stress responses. Compared with individually housed calves, pair-housed calves were more active and made fewer contacts with their neighbours when in their home pens; they were also less active in the arena, spent more time near the calf in the Y-maze, and had lower cortisol responses to ACTH. Calves that had received additional human contact interacted more with the man in the arena and had lower mean heart rates than those that had received minimal contact. This study confirmed that calves feel a need for social contacts and that pair-housing can lower the stress felt by calves separated from their conspecifics. Additional contact from stockpersons increases calves` likelihood of approaching humans but cannot compensate for their lack of social partners. Hence, when calves are separated, the duration of the separation should be limited, and visual and physical contact with other calves should be provided.

Keywords: ACTH challenge, animal welfare, behaviour, cattle, housing, human–animal interactions

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Animal-Based measures for the ASSESSMENT OF welfare state of dairy cattle, pigs and laying hens: consensus OF EXPERT OPINION

H R Whay*, D C J Main*, L E Green and A J F Webster*

* University of Bristol, Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, Langford House, Langford, Bristol BS405DU, UK

University of Warwick, Department of Biological Sciences, Coventry CV47AL, UK

Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 205-217

A Delphi technique was used to gather the opinions of animal welfare experts on the most appropriate measures for welfare assessment of farm animals. The experts were asked to consider measures that were directed towards the animal (animal-based), rather than measurement of their environment. This systematic approach was designed to achieve a degree of consensus of opinion between a large number of experts. Two rounds of postal questionnaires were targeted at people with expertise in one or more of the species of interest. The respondents suggested measures based upon observations of health status, behaviour, and examination of records. These measures reflect the animal`s welfare state- in other words, how the animal is coping within the environment and husbandry system in which it lives. The measures for cattle, pigs and laying hens were categorised into 22, 23 and 28 aspects, respectively, with the highest ranking of importance being given to observation of lameness in dairy cattle and pigs and to observation of feather condition in laying hens. This Delphi study was the basis for the development of a series of protocols to assess the welfare state of dairy cattle, pigs and laying hens.

Keywords: animal-based welfare measures, dairy cattle, Delphi technique, laying hens, pigs, welfare state

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K Dahl*§, P Sandoe, P F Johnsen, J Lassen and A Kornerup Hansen*

Centre for Bioethics and Risk Assessment, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, 15Bulowsvej, DK-1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark

* Division of Laboratory Animal Science and Welfare, Department of Pharmacology and Pathobiology

Department of Animal Science and Animal Health

Research Department of Human Nutrition

§ Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 219-237

The welfare of transgenic animals is often not considered prior to their generation. However, we demonstrate here how a welfare risk assessment can be carried out before transgenic animals are created. We describe a risk assessment identifying potential welfare problems in transgenic pigs generated for future xeno-donation of organs. This assessment is based on currently available information concerning transgenic animal models in which one or more transgenes relevant to future xeno-donation have been inserted. The welfare risk assessment reveals that future xeno-donor pigs may have an increased tendency toward septicaemias, reduced fertility and/or impaired vision. The transgenic animal models used in generating hypotheses about the welfare of xeno-donor pigs can also assist in the testing of these hypotheses. To ensure high levels of welfare of transgenic animals, analogous risk assessments can be used to identify potential welfare problems during the early stages of the generation of new transgenic animals. Such assessments may form part of the basis on which licenses to generate new transgenic animals are granted to research groups.

Keywords: animal welfare, organ donor, risk assessment, transgenesis, xeno-donor, xenotransplantation

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N E O’Connell*, V E Beattie* and B W Moss

* Agricultural Research Institute of Northern Ireland, Large Park, Hillsborough, Co Down, BT266DR, UK

Department of Food Science, Queen’s University Belfast, Newforge Lane, Belfast BT95PX, UK

Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: niamh.o`

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 239-249

Forty-eight Large White × Landrace multiparous sows were mixed into twelve groups of four animals after their piglets were weaned. These groups were defined as static, with no animals being added to or removed from the groups after their formation. Aggressive and submissive behaviours were recorded continuously for 9h after the sows were mixed, and the sows were assigned high or low social status on the basis of their relative aggressiveness and success in aggressive interactions. After five weeks, each static group was mixed into a dynamic group of 40±2 sows for an 11-week period. Three static groups (ie 12 animals) at a time were added to the dynamic group at three-week intervals; the same number of animals was removed at these time-points in order to maintain the group number at 40±2. Injury levels increased significantly with the transition from static groups to the dynamic group (P<0.001). Sows with low social status had lower bodyweights (P<0.001) and higher injury levels one week after mixing into static and dynamic groups (P<0.01). Social status did not significantly affect salivary cortisol levels. Sows with low social status were positioned lower in the feed order, determined using an electronic feeder (P<0.001), and tended to be displaced from the feeder queue more often (P<0.1) in the dynamic group. Sows with low social status were also displaced from the drinker more often than high-ranking sows in the dynamic group (P<0.01). This may have led to the greater frequency of drinking behaviour shown by low-ranking sows (P<0.05). Sows with low social status were observed less often in the kennel areas than were the high-ranking sows in the dynamic group (P<0.05), suggesting that they were denied access to the prime lying areas. The results suggest that the welfare of sows is negatively affected by low social status in both small static and large dynamic groups.

Keywords: animal welfare, dynamic groups, social status, sows, static groups

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Stability of Breeding and Non-breeding Groups of Golden-headed Lion Tamarins (Leontopithecus chrysomelas)

K De Vleeschouwer*, K Leus* and L Van Elsacker*

* Centre for Research and Conservation, Royal Zoological Society Of Antwerp, KAstridplein26, B-2018 Antwerp, Belgium

University of Antwerp, Department of Biology, Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610 Antwerp, Belgium

Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 251-268

In Callitrichid primates, offspring remain in their natal group beyond the age of sexual maturity, increasing the group’s inclusive fitness by cooperatively rearing their siblings. Contraception of the dominant female in these groups may alter the associated costs and benefits of this cooperative rearing in such a way that offspring themselves attempt to breed when a period longer than the normal inter-birth interval of one year has elapsed. Contraception of the dominant female may also induce changes in socio-sexual interactions between group members, which can lead to increased aggression after a short period. In this study, we investigated the occurrence of aggression in 16 captive groups of golden-headed lion tamarins (Leontopithecus chrysomelas) under three conditions: 1) no contraception used; 2) contraception used and offspring younger than one year present within the group; and 3) contraception used and all offspring in the group older than one year. We found that the probability of aggression occurring in the groups was best predicted by logistic regression models containing the factors `group size` and `overall proportion of males` or `number of sons`. Aggression was more likely in larger groups with a high proportion of males or a large number of sons. This effect was significantly stronger for groups in which all offspring were older than one year. Absence of dispersal opportunities and differences in male and female reproductive strategies may explain the observed patterns. The increased instability of large non-breeding groups presents a problem when using long-term contraceptive methods and should be taken into account when making decisions on the most suitable population-control procedures.

Keywords: aggression, animal welfare, Callitrichids, contraception, golden-headed lion tamarins, population control

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N B Prescott*, C M Wathes and J R Jarvis

Silsoe Research Institute, Wrest Park, Silsoe, Bedfordshire MK45 4HS, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 269-288

The visual system of domestic poultry evolved in natural light environments, which differ in many respects from the artificial light provided in poultry houses. Current lighting systems are designed mainly around human vision and poultry production, ignoring the requirements of poultry vision and the functional development of visual abilities during rearing. A poor correlation between the light provided and that required for effective vision may influence visually mediated behaviours such as feeding and social interaction, leading to distress and poor welfare. To understand fully the impact of the light environment on the behaviour and welfare of domestic poultry we need (i) to measure the physical properties of the light environment in a standard and relevant manner; (ii) to identify the limits of visual abilities in various light environments; (iii) to determine how light environments during rearing may disrupt the functional development of vision; and (iv) to resolve how visual abilities and lighting interact to affect visually mediated behaviour. Some conclusions can be drawn about the impact of current lighting regimes on bird welfare but there remains a pressing need to resolve various issues in this interaction. We propose, first, that dark periods should have a minimum duration of six hours; second, that bright light should be used in cases where pecking damage and cannibalism do not pose a problem; and third, that it is unlikely that the 100Hz flicker associated with fluorescent light can be perceived by poultry. With less certainty, we can suggest that ultraviolet-supplemented lighting may have some welfare benefits, and that very dim lighting may adversely affect ocular development. We can only speculate on other issues, such as preferences and motivations for different coloured lighting or the ways in which lighting affects recognition of conspecifics. Several organisations and authorities have issued guidelines for poultry house lighting that strive to safeguard welfare and that are consistent with our current, but limited, understanding. One omission is a standard system for measuring light levels in poultry houses. Illumination with natural daylight would be an ideal solution to many lighting problems. Although some systems require artificial lighting for production purposes, we argue that it may be possible to rear birds humanely in artificial environments that contain some features of natural light. These features should be those for which poultry show some motivation, or whose exclusion would damage visual development.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, domestic poultry, environment, light, vision

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Behavioural and physiological differences between silver foxes selected and not selected for domestic behaviour

M Harri, J Mononen*, L Ahola, I Plyusnina and T Rekilä§

Institute of Applied Biotechnology, University of Kuopio, Finland

Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Novosibirsk 630090, Russia

§ Present address: Agrifood Research Finland, Fur Farming Research Station, Turkistie 8,
FIN-69100 Kannus, Finland

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: Institute of Applied Biotechnology, University of Kuopio, P O Box 1627, FIN-70211 Kuopio, Finland;

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 305-314

The degree of domestication of an animal is difficult to estimate because the animal’s phenotype depends not only on its genetic make-up but also on its experiences during ontogeny. In addition, comparisons between wild and domestic animals suffer from the lack of a proper reference population. In this study, we compared the offspring of silver foxes (Vulpes vulpes) that had been selected specifically for tameness for more than 30 generations (NOVO) with normal Finnish farmed foxes (FIN) and with reciprocal hybrids between these two strains. All animals were housed under standard farm conditions without any extra handling. The NOVO foxes had higher domestication indexes and lower fearfulness scores than the FIN foxes, with their hybrids showing values in between. Almost all NOVO foxes started eating in the presence of a human and took a titbit from him, whereas only a few FIN foxes did so. Open field and urinary cortisol tests failed to discriminate between the genotypes. The NOVO cubs had lower levels of serum cortisol both before and after a stressful situation or ACTH injection and showed lower stress-induced hyperthermia than the FIN cubs, with the hybrids showing results in between. NOVO foxes can be used as a reference when developing and validating behavioural tests for use in the selection of less fearful silver foxes. The observed low fear levels and low stress hormone levels suggest better welfare in the NOVO foxes under standard farm conditions.

Keywords: animal welfare, attention-seeking behaviour, behavioural test, silver fox, stress, Vulpes vulpes

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P H Zimmerman*, A Lundberg, L J Keeling and P Koene

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Ethology Group, Wageningen University, P O Box 338, 6700 AH, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, P O Box 234, SE-532 23 Skara, Sweden

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: University of Bristol, Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, Langford House, Langford, Bristol BS405DU, UK;

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 315-326

When thwarted in a behaviour, laying hens show an increase in stereotyped pacing, displacement preening and a specific vocalisation known as the ‘gakel-call’. How these behaviours, which might serve as indicators of welfare, are influenced by social factors is not yet known. In this study, we investigated the effect of an audience (another bird or a human) on the expression of the gakel-call and other behaviours indicating frustration. Twenty-four Lohman Brown hens were trained to gain free access to food in a test cage. Sixteen hens were used as test birds and eight as non-test audience birds. The food-deprived test hens were tested for 15min in a non-thwarting situation (food freely available) and for 15min in a thwarting situation (food covered but visible). For both situations we investigated four different treatments: no audience in the adjacent cage; a non-thwarted audience bird in the adjacent cage; a thwarted audience bird in the adjacent cage; and finally a human audience. The durations of stereotyped pacing and displacement preening were significantly higher in test birds during thwarting than during non-thwarting; thwarted birds also gave significantly more gakel-calls compared to non-thwarted birds. The test birds, and also the audience birds, gave more gakel-calls when thwarted in the presence of a thwarted conspecific than when in the presence of a non-thwarted bird, but there were no significant differences in stereotyped pacing or displacement preening, which are usually associated with frustration. In conclusion, this study supports the view that the gakel-call signals frustration in laying hens. Furthermore, the state of the audience influences the occurrence of gakel-calls in thwarted hens. Thus, when using the gakel-call as a welfare-indicator, the social aspects of the vocal expression of frustration in laying hens should not be overlooked.

Keywords: animal welfare, audience, frustration, laying hens, social behaviour, vocalisations

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B Majolo *, H M Buchanan-Smithand K Morris

* School of Biological and Earth Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool L33AF, UK

Scottish Primate Research Group, Department of Psychology, University of Stirling, Stirling FK94LA, UK

MRC Human Reproductive Science Unit, 37 Chalmers Street, Edinburgh EH39ET, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 327-337

Laboratory primates are often housed in same-sex pairs to avoid single-housing and when breeding is to be prevented. However, pair formation is not without risks, as fights and injuries may occur. No data are available on pair formation in female common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus), a species used extensively in laboratories. Therefore, this study focuses on the pairing of unfamiliar common marmoset females, aiming to assess its success rate and whether age can predict the result. Data on the study animals and success of the pairings were extracted from laboratory back-records: a total of 28 pairings was obtained. In addition, behavioural data were collected on six of the 28 pairs. Almost 80% of pairs were compatible beyond one week, and most of the fights occurred well within the first week after pair formation. Pairs in which one of the females was sexually immature (ie <15months) were significantly more compatible than pairs in which both females were post-pubertal. First encounters were characterised by sniffing of the unfamiliar monkey. Aggressive behaviours occurred frequently following pair formation but they were unidirectional, and in only two pairs was veterinary treatment required. This study shows that pairing of unfamiliar common marmoset females is a safe practice if one monkey is sexually immature, a result that supports observations of both group and pair formation in other primate species. However, given the potentially detrimental effects of removing young females from their natal groups, we argue that it is preferable to remove two sisters from their natal group when female pairs are required. However, when a single sexually mature female requires a pair mate so as to avoid single-housing and no mature sibling is available, an older, but still sexually immature, unfamiliar female that has had a normal development within the family should be considered as a pair mate.

Keywords: animal welfare, colony management, common marmoset, husbandry, pair formation

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F C Flower* and D M Weary

Animal Welfare Program, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Centre for Applied Ethics, University of British Columbia, 2357 Main Mall, Vancouver V6T 1Z4, Canada

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 339-348

Most dairy producers believe that early separation of the cow and calf is necessary for reproductive efficiency, to minimise health problems and to improve the ease of milking. In addition, many consider that it is less distressing for both animals if separation occurs earlier rather than later. In this paper we review the welfare and production effects of early separation on the cow and calf. Research has shown that the cow’s immediate behavioural response to separation from the calf increases with increased contact with the calf, but other work has shown that cow health and productivity are positively affected by the presence of the calf. Calf response to separation also increases when the calf spends more time with the cow, but there are long-term benefits of prolonged contact in terms of sociality, fearfulness and future maternal behaviour. Health, weight gain and future productivity are also improved when the calf is allowed to spend more time with the cow.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, calf, dairy cow, separation

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H W Erhard

Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB158QH, UK;

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 349-358

In the test described here, sheep are exposed to a situation of conflict between the motivation to approach other sheep and the motivation to avoid a human handler. The distance that the test sheep keep from the handler is a reflection of the relative aversiveness of this handler to the sheep. The test itself requires only a minimum amount of handling and gives the test animals the opportunity to choose their distance from the aversive stimulus, thereby reducing stress during the test itself. The two aversive stimuli chosen for comparison were a human handler facing toward the test arena (more aversive) or the same handler turning his back to the arena (less aversive). Ten Scottish Blackface sheep were tested individually a total of ten times, five times with each of the two stimuli in alternate tests. During the first two tests, nine of the sheep stayed further away when the human was facing toward the arena, compared to when he was facing away; this shows that the test is able to discriminate differences in aversiveness between two stimuli as perceived by individual sheep. This difference was not apparent in the following eight tests, probably because of the fact that the stimuli were not reinforced during the tests. Because the test is concerned with sheep’s reaction to a stimulus (eg handler), the procedure associated with the stimulus itself (eg shearing, castration) does not have to be repeated in the test, which means that this method is ideal for studying procedures which cause distress to the animals or which are difficult to repeat.

Keywords: animal welfare, approach–avoidance conflict, aversion, motivation, sheep

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M A Bloomsmith*, L R Tarou, S P Lambeth and M D Haberstroh

* TECHlab, Zoo Atlanta, 800 Cherokee Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30315, and The Yerkes National Primate Research Center , Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA

Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Department of Conservation Biology, 3001Connecticut Ave, Washington, DC 20008, USA

Department of Veterinary Sciences, The University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Center, Bastrop, TX 78602, USA

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 359-368

For management and/or research purposes, chimpanzee mothers and their offspring are often physically separated from one another at an earlier age than they would be in the wild. Studies of the behavioural and physiological effects of mother–infant separation on infant behaviour have been conducted in both human and nonhuman primates. However, few studies have been conducted to examine the response of the mother to separation from her infant, particularly in great apes. The current study opportunistically examined the response of twelve chimpanzee mothers to separation from 15 of their offspring ranging from 1.8 to 5.4 years of age. Behavioural data (proximity of the mother to other group members, and fifteen behaviours representing six categories [agonistic, prosocial, vocalisations, abnormal, locomotor, inactive]) were collected for three weeks prior to and three to five weeks following the permanent removal of the offspring from their mothers. A repeated measures MANOVA conducted on all subjects revealed no significant change in behaviour following separation. There was a significant increase in iactivity following separation of the offspring (F2,21=5.47, P<0.05) in a subgroup of mothers (n=8) that was studied more intensively on the first day of separation. Maternal age, infant age, presence of other offspring, and past experience with mother–offspring separation had no effect on response to separation. These results contradict those of mother–infant separation studies in monkeys and indicate that most behavioural indicators of well-being are stable in chimpanzee mothers that remain in their familiar environment and social group following offspring separation.

Keywords: animal welfare, behavioural management, chimpanzees, despair, protest, social separation

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C Bonacic*, D W Macdonald* and G Villouta

* Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford, Department of Zoology, South Parks Road, Oxford OX13PS, UK

Departamento de Ciencias Animales, Facultad de Agronomia e Ingenieria Forestal, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Casilla 306, Correo 22, Santiago, Chile

Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad de Chile, Santa Rosa 11735, Santiago, Chile

Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 369-385

The vicuna is mainly used in two ways: wild captured, shorn and returned to the wild; or wild captured and maintained in captivity as part of a programme of sustainable use in the Andes of South America. Farming of wild vicunas has hitherto involved no assessment of their welfare. In this study we measured a set of basic blood parameters in order to characterise baseline values in captivity, and we then characterised adrenal cortical responsiveness using an ACTH challenge. The ACTH challenge is widely used for assessing neuroendocrine responses to stress and is now increasingly being applied to studies of wild animals’ welfare. Five male vicunas were injected with exogenous ACTH and their responses compared with those of a control group injected with placebo. Behavioural and haematological changes were monitored. Injection of ACTH produced a 4.5-fold increase in cortisol concentration within 1h. Total white blood cell count almost doubled in less than 5h. The neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio also changed, with a decrease in lymphocytes and an increase in neutrophils, suggesting that the neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio was affected by the ACTH challenge. Packed cell volume increased from 40% to 44%. Observations of individual vicunas during sampling revealed no discernible behavioural differences between treated and control animals; however, animals that had higher initial baseline cortisol concentration made more attempts to escape, and vocalised more during handling, regardless of whether they were treated with ACTH or placebo. The results reveal the different blood parameter levels associated with stress in different species and highlight the hazard of interpreting stress levels in one species on the basis of measures calibrated in another. We provide calibrated reference values for future studies of stress in vicunas.

Keywords: animal welfare, Camelid, Chile, guanaco, stress, vicuna

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C Bonacic* and D W Macdonald*

* Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford, Department of Zoology, South Parks Road, Oxford OX13PS, UK

Departamento de Ciencias Animales, Facultad de Agronomia e Ingenieria Forestal, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Casilla 306, Correo 22, Santiago, Chile

Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 387-402

A current programme of wildlife utilisation in the Andean region involves the capture of wild vicunas, their shearing, transport and, in some cases, captive farming. The effects of these interventions on the physiology, and thus welfare, of wild vicunas are unknown. As a first step to quantifying and thus mitigating any adverse welfare consequences of this harvest, we measured the immediate and longer-term physical and physiological effects of capture, shearing and transport. A sample of juvenile male vicunas was captured. Six were shorn at the capture site, six after two weeks in captivity, and the remaining seven animals were kept as controls for 39 days. In general, vicunas showed changes in blood glucose, packed cell volume, cortisol, and neutrophil:lymphocyte ratios within 4–6h following capture. Creatine kinase was also affected by capture and transport, showing a peak plasma level 24h after capture, which was followed by a peak plasma level of aspartate aminotransferase four days after capture and transport. After 12days in captivity, all of the vicunas showed physiological parameters close to expected baseline values for the species. We could detect no differences in physiological parameters between animals that were captured, sheared and transported and those that were only captured and transported. Similarly, we could detect no differences in most responses of vicunas between those sheared after 12days in captivity and a control group held under similar conditions but from which blood was sampled without shearing. A further comparison between animals sheared immediately after capture and animals sheared after 12days in captivity revealed that creatine kinase levels were higher in the former group. During transport prior to release back into the wild, only minor injuries (lip bleeding and limb contusions) and a significant increase in rectal temperature were observed. Our results provide a basis for recommendations to improve the welfare of vicunas during the wool harvest, and provide baseline and stress-response data to serve as reference points for further studies of vicuna welfare.

Keywords: animal welfare, capture effects, ecophysiology, shearing effects, stress response, sustainable use

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Y Saco*, M J Docampo*, E Fàbrega, X Manteca, A Diestre,

F Lampreave§ and A Bassols*#

* Departament de Bioquímica i Biologia Molecular i Servei de Bioquímica Clínica Veterinaria, Facultat de Veterinària, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain

Departament de Biología Cel.lular, Fisiología i Immunologia, Facultat de Veterinària, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain

Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries, Centre de Tecnologia de la Carn, Granja Camps i Armet, 17121 Monells, Girona, Spain

§ Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain

# Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 403-409

This study was undertaken in order to determine the variation of the acute phase proteins haptoglobin and Pig-MAP (major acute phase protein) in the serum of pigs affected by transport-related stress. Pigs were subjected to one of two pre-slaughter treatments: a)short-duration transport (1h15min transport and 2h lairage); or b)long-duration transport (6h transport and 14h lairage). There were 10 individuals in each treatment group, belonging to the NN (n=5) or Nn (n=5) genotypes for halothane susceptibility. Samples were taken before transport, just after transport, and on stunning at slaughter. We measured levels of serum haptoglobin, Pig-MAP and cortisol. Our results showed that the short-duration transport did not modify the levels of haptoglobin or of Pig-MAP in any of the three samples, whereas cortisol was increased just after transport. In contrast, there was an increase in haptoglobin and Pig-MAP in serum from animals after long-duration transport, as observed in the post-mortem samples (20–21h after the beginning of transport); cortisol levels were not increased in these conditions. In this experiment, homozygotes for the halothane gene tended to have higher values of haptoglobin after slaughter than did heterozygotes. In conclusion, combined determination of acute phase proteins and cortisol levels could provide valuable information on welfare problems related to transport.

Keywords: acute phase proteins, animal welfare, haptoglobin, Pig-MAP, pigs, transport stress

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A J F Webster

Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford House, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU, UK;

If science is to be of service to animal welfare, it must do more than just study it. If our past and current research is to have meaning for the vast populations of animals used by humans for our own ends, then we must take it out of the confines of our own laboratories and into the world where these animals actually live. We need practical, robust protocols for assessing the welfare of animals kept in groups for commercial purposes, whether on farms, in zoos and other places of popular entertainment, or in scientific establishments. While these protocols must incorporate principles derived from detailed scientific study, they will, in practice, need to be based on relatively simple observations and records of husbandry and welfare; the sort that a skilled assessor can acquire at a single visit. Although simple, such assessments must be comprehensive. They should consider both the provision of resources, management and stockmanship that contribute to good husbandry and the elements that contribute to the desired outcome — good animal welfare — when this is defined for a sentient animal as ‘fit and feeling good’. Any assessment of welfare that is based only on behaviour, or motivational state, or physical appearance, or performance records, can never tell the full story. The ‘Five Freedoms’ and ‘Five Provisions’ were proposed by the Farm Animal Welfare Council (1993) as a comprehensive statement of principles that categorise the different elements necessary for good welfare and the husbandry provisions necessary to promote them (Table 1). The task for those concerned for animal welfare is to convert these principles into practice. The first essential stage in this process is to explore and map out in detail the procedures necessary to establish the welfare state of animals kept in groups for commercial purposes. This requires the following:

  • Identification of practical, robust methods for assessing the important elements for the husbandry and welfare of animals kept in groups on farms or in other commercial enterprises.
  • Testing the efficacy of these practical measures against established, more searching indices of animal welfare established under experimental conditions with small numbers of animals.
  • Development of protocols for the assessment of husbandry and welfare for each species of concern (eg poultry, cattle, laboratory rodents). If these protocols are constructed from agreed and tested measurements and records of the different elements of welfare state, it should be possible to achieve a satisfactory degree of uniformity as to method and interpretation. Ideally, this uniformity should be achieved at an international level since welfare problems, as perceived by the animals, do not recognise national boundaries.

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D Fraser

Animal Welfare Program, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Centre for Applied Ethics, University of British Columbia, 2357 Main Mall, Vancouver V6T 1Z4, Canada

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 433-443

In the social debate about animal welfare we can identify three different views about how animals should be raised and how their welfare should be judged: (1) the view that animals should be raised under conditions that promote good biological functioning in the sense of health, growth and reproduction, (2) the view that animals should be raised in ways that minimise suffering and promote contentment, and (3) the view that animals should be allowed to lead relatively natural lives. When attempting to assess animal welfare, different scientists select different criteria, reflecting one or more of these value-dependent views. Even when ostensibly covering all three views, scientists may differ in what they treat as inherently important versus only instrumentally important, and their selection of variables may be further influenced by a desire to use measures that are scientifically respected and can be scored objectively. Value assumptions may also enter animal welfare assessment at the farm and group level (1) when empirical data provide insufficient guidance on important issues, (2) when we need to weigh conflicting interests of different animals, and (3) when we need to weigh conflicting evidence from different variables. Although value assumptions cannot be eliminated from animal welfare assessment, they can be made more explicit as the first step in creating animal welfare assessment tools. Different value assumptions could lead to different welfare assessment tools, each claiming validity within a given set of assumptions.

Keywords: animal welfare, ethics, sows, standards, values, welfare assessment

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Measuring and monitoring animal welfare: transparency in the FOOD product quality chain

H J Blokhuis*, R B Jones, R Geers, M Miele§ and I Veissier#

*Animal Sciences Group, Wageningen UR, PO Box 65, 8200 AB Lelystad, The Netherlands

Roslin Institute (Edinburgh), Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9PS, Scotland

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Laboratory of Quality Care in Animal Production, B-3360 Lovenjoel, Belgium

§ University of Pisa, Agricultural Economics Unit, Department of Agronomy and Agro-ecosystem Management, via del Borghetto 80, 56124 Pisa, Italy

#URH-ACS, INRA-Theix, 63122 Saint-Genes Champanelle, France

*Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 445-455

Animal welfare is of increasing significance for European consumers and citizens. Previously, agricultural production focused mainly on supply, price and competition but consumers now expect their food to be produced and processed with greater respect for the welfare of the animals. Food quality is therefore determined by the welfare status of the animals from which it was produced as well as the nature and safety of the end product. Thus, practical welfare improvement strategies and reliable on-farm monitoring systems for assessing the animals’ welfare status and evaluating potential risks are urgently required to accommodate societal concerns and market demands. It is also of paramount importance to define the kind of information that consumers want about the final products and to develop effective strategies for communicating welfare standards to the public. Generating an intensified dialogue with all factions of society on welfare issues as well as appropriate labelling of animal products and farming systems that offer guarantees about welfare issues and production conditions will, in turn, promote transparency and the societal sustainability of European agriculture. Welfare is multidimensional. It cannot be measured directly but only inferred from external parameters. Therefore, the integration of the most appropriate specialist expertise in Europe is essential to develop, refine, standardise and intercalibrate welfare monitoring systems and to identify and validate remedial measures. We must establish a European standard for welfare assessment systems in order to facilitate intra-European trade and marketing. Only then can we harmonise labelling that is informative and relevant to all European consumers.

Keywords: animal welfare, consumer concern, labelling, on-farm monitoring, practical welfare improvement strategies, standards

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E M Scott*, J L Fitzpatrick, A M Nolan, J Reid and M L Wiseman

* Department of Statistics, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QW, UK

Institute of Comparative Studies (Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies), University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QW, UK

Institute of Comparative Studies (Department of Veterinary Pre-Clinical Studies), University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QW, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 457-468

Welfare is a multidimensional construct and its quantification is of major scientific, societal and economic importance in veterinary medicine. The construction of indices that measure welfare validly and reliably remains a considerable challenge. A general methodology for constructing welfare indices can be adapted from human medicine (in particular, from methodologies to assess Quality of Life [QoL]) and modified to reflect the fact that all assessments of animal welfare must be observer-based. The methodology is based on the creation of individual, composite indices for distinct dimensions/domains of welfare such as pain, disease, or stress. The domains include behavioural, physiological and biochemical markers. We have established QoL methodologies in the assessment of acute and chronic pain in dogs and generalised this approach to farm animal welfare. We describe the development of a questionnaire with seven behavioural categories which are used to create a single pain score to assess acute pain in dogs. For chronic pain in dogs, a structured questionnaire with over 100 items has been devised, which the owner completes by indicating degree of agreement with each item using a seven-point Likert scale. The welfare measure includes pain as an integral component as well as husbandry, behavioural and physiological/biological measures. In each case, a profile of the individual indices can be studied and compared over time or among observers. These indices may also be combined to form a single composite welfare measure, should this be appropriate, using scaling models. In the welfare setting, we have both causal and indicator variables — and indeed, for farm animals, the causal variables may be sufficient cause for poor welfare (eg the presence of disease or inadequate husbandry).

Keywords: animal welfare, animal welfare assessment, health-related quality of life, psychometric theory, scaling models

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P Sandøe*, S B Christiansen and M C Appleby

Centre for Bioethics and Risk Assessment, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Groennegaardsvej 8, DK-1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark

The Humane Society of the United States, Washington DC, USA

*Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 469-478

Farm animal welfare has now been studied, within a scientific framework, for several decades. The framework does not include ethical issues, but unless measurements of animal welfare at farm level are embedded in an ethical context, there is a danger that these measurements will not be properly utilised. This paper considers the relationship between ethical questions and animal welfare assessment. In it, the following four key ethical questions are identified. What is the baseline standard for morally acceptable animal welfare? What is a good animal life? What farming purposes are legitimate? What kinds of compromise are acceptable in a less-than-perfect world? The authors suggest that animal welfare scientists need to reflect carefully on these questions if welfare assessments are to be properly interpreted and put to practical use. Such reflection will lead to a more transparent appreciation of the values underlying welfare assessment. In this way, it will both offer welfare scientists a greater awareness of their own value-assumptions and enable the same scientists to communicate effectively with the wider audience—farmers, consumers, pressure groups, policy-makers and so on—for which the results of animal welfare assessments are of concern.

Keywords: animal welfare, assessment, ethics, farm animal welfare, public debate, transparency

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X Boivin*, J Lensink, C Tallet and I Veissier

URH-ACS, INRA de Theix, F-63122 St Genés Champanelle, France

Institut Supérieur d’Agriculture, 41 Rue du Port, F-59046 Lille cedex, France

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 479-492

Human factors (attitudes, personality traits, self-esteem, job satisfaction) strongly determine our behaviour towards animals, animal production and animal welfare. Recent studies have emphasised positive human contacts as indicators of a stockperson’s positive attitude towards animals and towards animal welfare in general. Stockmanship can be improved by careful selection of people and/or by training. However, little is known of the biological basis of the effect of stock handling procedures on the welfare of animals. The animal’s perception of the stockperson (based both on emotional responses and cognitive aspects such as anticipation, recognition and categorisation), and the existence of sensitive periods in an animal’s life, need to be explored in more depth, especially under farm conditions. We need to consider the complexity of human behaviour (eg husbandry practices, balance between positive and negative interactions, predictability, controllability) and its effect on animal welfare from the animal’s point of view throughout its whole life. This paper identifies the importance of positive human contacts for both animals and stockpeople, and highlights the challenge to maintain such positive contacts despite the trend in modern agriculture to increase the number of animals per stockperson. This requires better knowledge of animal genetics, socialisation to humans during sensitive periods, and management of the social group. We emphasise the ethical importance of the human–animal relationship in the context of farm animal welfare and productivity.

Keywords: animal behaviour, animal welfare, cognition, domestic animals, human–animal relationship, stockmanship

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J A Mench

Department of Animal Science, University of California, One Shields Avenue,

Davis, CA 95616 USA

Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 493-503

The United States has traditionally lagged behind Europe in the adoption of voluntary or legislated standards for the care and treatment of animals on farms. US federal legislation of farm animal practices is minimal, confined to aspects of livestock transport and slaughter. Although some of the livestock and poultry producer (commodity) groups wrote guidelines, codes of practice, or statements regarding the humane treatment of animals in the 1980s, these were usually very general statements of current industry practice, developed with little consultation with independent experts and involving no mechanism for encouraging or ensuring compliance by producers. However, this has changed dramatically in the last few years, with an increasing trend among US retailers to require their suppliers to adopt minimum animal welfare standards. The major chain restaurants and supermarkets are working through their trade organisations, the National Council of Chain Restaurants and the Food Marketing Institute respectively, and with the commodity groups, to develop a uniform set of standards and a national auditing program. Standards and auditing programs have already been approved for dairy cattle, laying hens and meat chickens, and for slaughter, including ritual slaughter (kosher and halal). The process of setting auditable standards is complicated by the lack of legislative underpinning, the scope of the auditing that will be required because of US farm sizes and the large distances between farms, and the varying levels of expertise of potential auditors. For these reasons, ‘engineering-based’ auditing criteria that are relatively easy to measure and to standardise are more common. There are both strengths and potential weaknesses of retail-driven rather than legislatively driven animal welfare standards. Regardless, the recent changes in the US possibly pave the way for increasing dialogue between Europe and the US on farm animal welfare issues.

Keywords: animal welfare, auditing, legislation, retailers, standards

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R Anthony

Department of Philosophy, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA, and
Animal Welfare Program, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, The University of
British Columbia, V6T1Z4, Canada

Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 505-512

Arguably, grounding animal ethics in traditional moral theories such as utilitarianism or rights-based ethics is impoverished since they emphasise impartiality and abstractness in our ethical deliberations at the expense of giving proper weight to special relationships we have with other individuals. Here, I explore the human–animal bond as a starting point for animal ethics, and focus on the resulting moral implications of this bond on farm animal welfare. The human–animal bond revisits values inherent in the nature of animal husbandry and is also influenced by philosophical ethics of caring. Farmers or stockpersons who form close bonds with their animals make an implicit promise to discharge duties to their animal companions above and beyond respectful treatment as sentient beings. Scientific study suggests that interpersonal human–animal relationships may translate to better care and consideration for farmed animals, promoting both better animal welfare and on-farm productivity. Acknowledging the existence of human–animal bonds on the farm and encouraging farmers and animal handlers not to shy away from forming bonds with their animals is recommended. Farmers, stockpersons, and contract-farmers for agribusinesses should be given an ethical voice to lodge grievances about how farmed animals are treated and be encouraged to participate in discussions on farming practices and animal welfare standards. They should also be educated on gains made through scientific enquiry regarding the capacities and needs of animals as well as on welfare advances.

Keywords: agricultural ethics, animal welfare, human–animal bond, human–animal relationship

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S Barbera

Dipartimento Scienze Zootecniche — Facoltà di Agraria,

Università di Torino, Via Leonardo da Vinci 44, 10095 Grugliasco (TO), Italy

Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 513-515

The management of farmed livestock frequently creates situations of stress because of the periodical necessity for handling procedures (weight and linear measurements, veterinary procedures etc). Some of these practices can be avoided using technologies that obviate the need for direct handling. This can improve animal welfare and reduce risks to the handlers. Video image analysis is a technique that can be used for linear measurements and morphological evaluations required for growth trials, genetic studies or herd-book records. This paper describes the application of video image analysis to linear measurement and shape assessment in horses and cattle with minimal disturbance to the animals.

Keywords: animal welfare, cattle, horse, video image analysis

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Assessing pain, suffering and distress in laboratory animals: an RSPCA survey of current practice in the UK

P Hawkins

RSPCA Research Animals Department, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, West Sussex RH13 9RS, UK

Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 517-522

A survey was undertaken to evaluate how animal discomfort, pain, suffering and distress are recognised and assessed in UK scientific procedure establishments. In total, twenty-eight establishments were visited between 1999 and 2001 and 137 people participated, including animal technicians, veterinarians and scientists. The full results, conclusions and recommendations of the survey have been published elsewhere (Hawkins 2002). The study showed that people are concerned about animal suffering, want to be able to prevent and alleviate it, and are aware that there are a number of practical problems that need to be overcome. These include animals concealing clinical signs, which leads to difficulties in detecting incipient discomfort and distress, and human subjectivity when assessing animals. The clinical signs used as indicators of potential pain, suffering and distress are largely subjective. Participants at all establishments agree that a ‘team’ approach to animal monitoring is the best way to ensure consistency and effectiveness. All twenty-eight establishments use clinical observation sheets to assist with animal assessment and monitoring, nine also use score sheets and seven use computerised data management systems. This paper concludes with recommendations based on the survey findings, with respect to monitoring techniques, assessment protocols and training issues, which aim to facilitate more effective animal assessment and monitoring.

Keywords: animal monitoring, animal welfare, humane endpoints, pain assessment, pain scoring, refinement

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D C J Main*, J P Kent, F Wemelsfelder, E Ofner§ and F A M Tuyttens#

*University of Bristol, Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, Langford House, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU, UK

Department of Psychology, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

Sustainable Livestock Systems, Scottish Agricultural College, Bush Estate, Penicuik EH26 0PH, UK

§ BAL Gumpenstein, Federal Research Institute for Agriculture in Alpine Regions, Unit for Agricultural Buildings and Husbandry, Altirdning 11, A-8952 Irdning, Austria

# Department of Mechanisation–Labour–Buildings–Animal Welfare and Environmental Protection (DVL), Agricultural Research Centre (CLO), Burg Van Gansberghelaan 115, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium

*Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 523-528

Animal welfare assessment at group level is a scientific discipline that is rapidly developing. The interest in welfare assessment systems is based on an ethical concern for the welfare of farm animals. The scientific community plays an important role in delivering an appropriate repeatable, valid and feasible framework for these assessments. Consideration of the potential applications of these techniques is important for deciding upon the requirements of specific assessment systems. This paper provides a brief overview of the different types of applications, which can be categorised broadly into research, legislative requirements (non-voluntary), certification systems (voluntary) and advisory/management tools. These applications may have various goals: quantification of welfare, provision of welfare assurance or welfare management. Assessment systems vary in many characteristics, such as whether they are animal- or resource-based, and whether they are based on single or integrated scores. Different applications will require different elements of these features.

Keywords: advisory, animal welfare, applications, certification, legislation, welfare assessment

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H Spoolder*, G De Rosa, B Hörning, S Waiblinger§ and F Wemelsfelder#

* Research Institute for Animal Husbandry, P O Box 2176, 8203 AD Lelystad, The Netherlands

Dipartimento di Scienze zootecniche e Ispezione degli alimenti, Università degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II” — Via Università 133, 80055 Portici (NA), Italy

Department of Farm Animal Behaviour and Management, University of Kassel, D-37213 Witzenhausen, Germany

§ Veterinärmedizinische Universität, Veterinärplatz 1, A-1210 Wien, Austria

# Scottish Agricultural College, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 529-534

Given the absence of a ‘Golden Standard’ for the objective determination of welfare, the collection and interpretation of data involving different parameters is essential for assessing the well-being of farm animals. The choice of parameters and the relative weights assigned to each of them are crucial for the outcome of the assessment. Both elements involve a certain degree of subjectivity. In this paper we discuss the basics of different methods used to integrate welfare parameters, focussing on the issue of scientific objectivity. We begin by addressing parameter selection, the assignment of parameter weightings or rankings and the qualifications necessary for ‘experts’ designing and applying the methodology. Five different approaches to integrating parameters are then discussed. The paper does not state a preference for any method, but aims to encourage discussion of key elements involved with the on-farm assessment of welfare.

Keywords: animal welfare, farm animals, husbandry, parameter integration, welfare assessment, welfare index

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Measures of developmental instability as integrated, aposteriori indicators of farm animal welfare: a review

F A M Tuyttens

Department of Mechanisation–Labour–Buildings–Animal Welfare and Environmental Protection (CLO-DvL), Agricultural Research Centre,

B Van Gansberghelaan 115, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium

Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 535-540

Developmental instability, of which fluctuating asymmetry is the most commonly used and recommended measure, has recently been claimed to be an objective, integrated and retrospective indicator of animal welfare. The theoretical and empirical grounds for these claims are reviewed. In theory, carefully selected composite indices of fluctuating asymmetry are valid indicators of animal welfare in the sense that they reflect the ability of the developmental processes of an animal, with a given genetic constitution, to cope with environmental stressors. Relevant scientific experiments are scant and are mainly restricted to poultry, but they are on the increase and they largely support the application of developmental instability for assessing animal welfare. A scheme for monitoring farm animal welfare based purely on measures of developmental instability would have important advantages, but cannot be recommended yet. It cannot be ruled out that certain factors are clearly relevant to the welfare status of an animal but do not notably/proportionally affect its morphogenesis. Moreover, such a monitoring scheme would not be appropriate for applications with an emphasis on problem analysis/management.

Keywords: animal welfare, developmental instability, developmental stability, farm animal, fluctuating asymmetry, poultry

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M Vaarst

Department of Animal Health and Welfare, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, PO Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark

Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 541-546

Qualitative interviews of farmers were carried out as part of a project focusing on developing animal welfare assessment systems (AWASs) in dairy, pig and mink production systems (26 farms in total). The aims of the interviews were to investigate farmers’ perceptions and experience of how an AWAS worked, and to explore their expectations for future use of AWASs. All interviews were taped, transcribed and analysed using a grounded-theory approach. The importance of different elements of the AWAS differed between farmers, and between farmers and the AWAS project implementation group. More direct associations between welfare assessment and production results (and other ‘common measures’) were requested by farmers. The whole AWAS ‘package’ was viewed as being too complex and expensive for most farmers, particularly as it involved multiple assessments over time. A range of themes emerged from the analysis. One of these, here referred to as ‘us and them’, is explored and discussed in this paper. Farmers were concerned that the AWAS could be used negatively in relation to consumers and political decisions, and they underlined that if the AWAS was to be used as a decision support tool (ie a system to assist them in making decisions about improvements in their herds and to guide their initiatives and improvements), it should include dialogue and details of local farm conditions. Qualitative interviews were found to provide valuable insight into farmers’ perceptions and expectations of animal welfare assessment methods.

Keywords: animal welfare, animal welfare assessment, decision support, farmer perception, qualitative interviews

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V A Bowell*, L J Rennie, G Tierney, A B Lawrence and M J Haskell

Animal Biology Division, Scottish Agricultural College, Bush Estate, Penicuik EH260PH, UK

Engineering Resources Group, Environment Division, Donald Hendrie Building, Scottish Agricultural College Auchincruive, Ayr KA6 5HW, UK

*Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 547-552

As part of a larger on-farm dairy cow welfare and behaviour project, data were collected from 22 commercial dairy farms over two winters (2000–2001 and 2001–2002). A further winter of farm sampling will complete the project (2002–2003), with five types of housing and production systems being assessed: high-, medium- and low-milk-production herds with cubicle housing, high-production herds with zero grazing and cubicle housing, and medium-production herds with straw courts. All cows in one early or mid-lactation group from each farm were observed. For the current analysis, locomotion, cleanliness and body condition were scored for the group, and an audit of building quality was carried out. Analysis of the available data shows that some aspects of building design affect the welfare of dairy cows. A positive correlation was found between mean body condition score of the cows and mean locomotion score (P=0.047). Body condition score correlated negatively with the number of cows in the group (P=0.049). Negative correlations were found between locomotion score and the ratio of cubicles to cows (P=0.033) and between the size of cubicles and leg cleanliness (P=0.012). Trends were also seen in the relationships between farm type and locomotion score (P=0.048), production level and locomotion score (P=0.074) and cow cleanliness and cubicle size (P=0.061). These results indicate that the quality of the housing and the management system can affect cow welfare. These measures may be useful to include in on-farm welfare assessment schemes.

Keywords: animal welfare, dairy cow, housing, lameness, management, welfare assessment

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M J Haskell*, L J Rennie, V A Bowell, F Wemelsfelder and A B Lawrence

Animal Biology Division, Scottish Agricultural College, Bush Estate, Penicuik EH26 0PH, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 553-556

There is a trend toward increasing intensification in dairy farming in the United Kingdom. In particular, there is concern over systems in which cows are housed throughout the year, as the behavioural restriction implicit in these systems is associated with poor welfare in other species. The aim of this on-going project is to determine how this affects the behaviour and welfare of dairy cattle. A range of behavioural, physical and health measures are being used to assess cow welfare on about 40 commercial British dairy farms. Initially, five farm types were identified from analysis of returns from a farmer questionnaire. Milk production level and housing type were the principal factors explaining variation in farm type. The sample groups are: high-, mid- and low-production cubicle-housing units, mid-production straw-court units, and cubicle-housing high-production zero-grazing units. Observations will take place over three winter housing periods (2000/01 to 2002/03), with recording on each unit taking five days. Our main hypothesis is that the behavioural and physical responses of ‘at-risk’ younger cows provide a sensitive indication of farm-level ‘stress’. Cows are marked according to age, and the feed-face videotaped continuously to record feeding time and social interactions. Temporal organisation of behaviour will be analysed using fractal mathematics and qualitative assessment approaches used in a human interaction test. Cow cleanliness, condition score, response to a novel object and the incidences of lameness and leg injury are recorded, and building quality is assessed. Ultimately, multivariate methods will be used to test our underlying hypothesis and to assess effects of housing and production type on behaviour and welfare. This analysis may identify key objective measures of welfare for use in farm assurance schemes.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, dairy cows, welfare assessment

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Attempts to integrate different parameters into an overall picture of animal welfare using investigations in

dairy loose houses as an example

B Hörning

Department of Animal Behaviour and Management, Faculty of Ecological Agriculture Sciences, Nordbahnhofstrasse 1a, D-37213 Witzenhausen, Germany;

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 557-563

The aim of this study was to illustrate the integration of different parameters into an overall assessment of animal welfare on the basis of studies with dairy cows. Behavioural observations were carried out on 36 farms with cubicle houses. Summed variables of resting behaviour were constructed by summing the results for three to nine behaviours. These summed variables showed higher correlations with cubicle features than did single behaviours. Individual animals may react differently to the same causes (cubicle features), and adding up may compensate for these different reactions of individuals to the same causes. Most recorded behaviours correlated with one another; this could be interpreted as evidence for identical causes. A cubicle sum variable was constructed, giving scores for cubicle features. The cubicle sum variable showed higher correlations with resting behaviours than did single cubicle features. This suggests that certain behaviours are affected by several cubicle features (additive effects). This hypothesis was confirmed by multivariate analysis.

Keywords: animal welfare, dairy cow, index construction, loose housing, parameter integration

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D C J Main*, H R Whay, L E Green and A J F Webster

University of Bristol, Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, Langford House, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU, UK

Ecology and Epidemiology Group, University of Warwick, Department of Biological Sciences, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 565-569

This paper describes an approach to assessing the overall welfare of cows on dairy farms. Veterinary and behaviour experts were shown results for ten selected welfare parameters for 25 pairs of dairy farms paired for farm assurance status but with similar geographical location and husbandry system. From this information alone they were asked to state which farms had better welfare. Overall, there were no significant differences between the conclusions of veterinary and behaviour experts. There was a significant relationship between the proportion of experts rating a farm as poorer and the measured difference in the number of cows with lameness or rising restrictions between the paired farms. There were no significant relationships between the expert decisions and differences in milk yield, flight distance, swollen hocks, mastitis incidence, dystocia level, conception rates, prevalence of thin cows and proportion of cows with dirty udders. Clearly, experts rate lameness and discomfort as highly important indices of poor welfare in dairy cows.

Keywords: animal welfare, dairy cattle, farm assurance, integration, welfare

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Correlations between the results of animal welfare assessments by the TGI35L Austrian Animal Needs Index and health and behavioural parameters of cattle

E Ofner*, T Amon, M Lins and B Amon

* BAL Gumpenstein, Federal Research Institute for Agriculture in Alpine Regions, Unit for Agricultural Buildings and Husbandry, Altirdning 11, A-8952 Irdning,


Institute of Agricultural, Environmental and Energy Engineering (ILUET), University of Agricultural Sciences Vienna (Universität für Bodenkultur Wien),

Nussdorfer Laende 29–31, A-1190 Vienna, Austria

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 571-578

Suitable systems for the assessment of animal welfare are in increasing demand. In Austria, the TGI35L Animal Needs Index is widely used and has been shown to be a feasible and reliable tool for animal welfare assessment on farms. Here we focus on the validity of TGI35L assessments, and explore the correlation between animal welfare as assessed by the TGI35L and animal health and behavioural parameters. From the results, it can be determined whether the criteria assessed by the TGI35L are preconditions for a high level of health and normal behaviour. Behaviour and health were examined in 11 cattle houses, totalling 169 animals. Behaviour was observed for two days on each farm. Data on resting behaviour, comfort behaviour, social behaviour, feed intake behaviour and eliminative behaviour were collected. Health was assessed using veterinary examinations carried out according to the General Clinical and the Orthopaedic Examination Proceedings. Significant correlations were found between the TGI scores and behaviour and health, including results for skin lesions and injuries. This indicates good validity of the TGI35L assessment system for cattle. A comprehensive system for the assessment of animal welfare on farms must comprise parameters of housing, climate, management and stockmanship, and animal-related parameters.

Keywords: ANI, animal welfare, assessment system, cattle, TGI, validity

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C Mülleder*, J Troxler and S Waiblinger

Institute of Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1, 1210 Vienna, Austria

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 579-584

Some aspects of on-farm assessment of social behaviour and avoidance distance were investigated on 20 Austrian dairy farms. The avoidance distance of at least 75% of cows was assessed. Social behaviour of the cows was observed for one hour and the number of animals standing was recorded every 10min. Lameness of each animal was scored, and Spearman correlations were calculated. Generally, the avoidance distance of the cows was very low. Lameness did not correlate significantly with avoidance distance. The number of agonistic interactions with body contact per cow correlated negatively with the percentage of lame animals (rs=–0.49; P=0.029). However, this correlation was no longer found (rs=–0.22; not significant) when calculated on the basis of standing animals only. The total number of social interactions correlated highly with the number of social interactions when interactions in the feeding rack were disregarded. The present study suggests that lameness confounds the assessment of social behaviour but not that of avoidance distance of cows, and that social interactions of animals standing in the feeding racks can be disregarded without decreasing the reliability of the assessments.

Keywords: animal welfare, avoidance distance, cattle, lameness, on-farm assessment, social behaviour

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S Waiblinger* and C Menke

Institute of Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare, University of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinärplatz 1, A-1210 Vienna, Austria

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 585-589

In the present study we evaluated the influence of different sample sizes and different experimenters on the reliability of measures of avoidance distance (AD) at farm level. On 29 dairy farms the AD of 55–100% of the cows was assessed by two different experimenters (E1 and E2). For both experimenters the herd median of AD (ADME) and the percentage of animals that could be touched (Touch%) were calculated. The reliability between experimenters was assessed by Spearman rank correlation coefficients. To assess the influence of sample size on reliability of AD, the tested animals were randomly divided into two halves (H1 and H2), and ADME and Touch% were calculated for both halves and correlated with each other, with total ADME and total Touch%, and with the behaviour of the milkers. All measures of AD were highly correlated between experimenters (ADME rs=0.86; Touch% rs=0.81). On farms with a higher value for ADME, however, some discrepancy was found between experimenters in ADME and Touch%. Smaller sample size reduced the number of significant correlations with milkers’ behaviour. AD of H1 and H2 correlated only moderately (rs=0.38–0.43). In sum, smaller sample size reduced reliability and validity. Between-observer reliability of AD was relatively high, but there may be some observer influence. Further investigations are necessary to optimise the measures.

Keywords: animal welfare, avoidance distance, cattle, human–animal relationship, on-farm welfare assessment

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L J Rennie*, V A Bowell, J M Dearing, M J Haskell and A B Lawrence

Scottish Agricultural College, Animal Biology Division, Sir Stephen Watson Building, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0PH, UK

The University Of Edinburgh, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Weir Building, The Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JY, UK

*Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 591-597

The modern dairy industry involves close contact between the stockperson and their animals and thus complex relationships develop between stockperson and cow. This study examines the assessment of stockmanship quality on commercial dairy farms and aims to develop useable protocols for on-farm assessment of stockmanship for inclusion in a quality-assurance scheme. In this study the behaviour of cows was used to assess the quality of stockmanship on fifteen commercial dairy farms, which varied in level of production and intensification. The behavioural reactions of cows to a novel human and the behaviour of the stockperson before, during and after milking were scored, and stockpersons completed a fifty-question psychometric attitude questionnaire, which was made up of seven subgroups of questions. Preliminary results indicated that stockpersons differ in the behaviour they use when handling cows. Stockpersons on zero-grazing farms appeared to use fewer positive tactile behaviours and more severe negative behaviour. The behavioural responses of cows in a novel human approach test differed between farm types. Cows on straw-court farms appeared to be more flighty and less confident in the presence of a novel human. Differences were observed in mean attitude scores for the seven subgroups of questions. Job type appears to have an effect on the extent of the stockperson’s positive attitude toward cows, animals in general, job satisfaction and farm economics. The results indicate that there are differences in quality of stockmanship between farms and that the three methods chosen do identify these. They show that the human–animal relationship is a potential source of fear for cows in dairy production and therefore can be used to identify poor stockmanship.

Keywords: animal welfare, dairy cow, fear, human–animal interaction, on-farm assessment, stockmanship

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I C Klaas*, T Rousing, C Fossing, J Hindhede and J T Sørensen

Department of Animal Health and Welfare, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 599-603

Lameness, a disease often observed in loose-housed dairy cattle herds, affects animal welfare in general and reduces cow locomotion. As cow traffic may be affected by restricted locomotion, lameness may be a significant problem in herds with automatic milking systems (AMSs). Between January and August 2002, a field study was conducted to evaluate animal health in eight herds with an AMS. Herd sizes ranged from 60 (n = 5 herds with one automatic milking unit [AMU]) to 120 cows (n = 3 herds with two AMUs). Four visits were made, during which 40–50 cows were randomly assigned for clinical examination of body condition, cleanliness, claw length, disorders of claws and legs, lameness, pressure lesions, and disorders of udder and teats. Lameness was observed in 14% of cows, ranging from 5% to 28% between herds. Approximately 60% of cows had pressure lesions on the hock and 23% of cows had overgrown claws. Preliminary results show that overgrown claws, pressure sores with swellings, early stage of lactation, and high milk yield significantly increased the risk of lameness. Lameness significantly reduced the number of voluntary milkings per day.

Keywords: animal welfare, automatic milking system, lameness, welfare

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K A O’Callaghan*, P J Cripps, D Y Downham and R D Murray

University of Liverpool, Department of Veterinary Clinical Science and Animal Husbandry, Leahurst, Neston, Wirral CH64 7TE, UK

University of Liverpool, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Liverpool L69 7ZL, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 605-610

Pain experienced by lame cattle is often masked by their instinctive stoicism, leading to delayed detection and treatment of lameness. This paper investigates the usefulness of posture scoring during locomotion and the evaluation of daily activity levels as indicators of pain and discomfort resulting from lameness in dairy cattle. In this study, 345 lactating cattle were observed over a seven-month winter housing period. The posture of each cow was scored twice weekly using a subjective five-point numerical rating scale. Daily activity levels were measured objectively using pedometers. The effect of lameness on behaviour was addressed. Increased posture scores were associated with the presence of foot lesions (P < 0.001) and with reduced daily activity levels (P < 0.001). In comparison to sound cows, lame cows showed lower daily activity levels (P < 0.001). These results improve understanding of pain-related behaviours in cattle, and such an approach may assist future development of welfare assessment systems.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, cow, lameness, pain, pedometer

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H R Whay*, D C J Main, L E Green and A J F Webster

University of Bristol, Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, Langford House, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU, UK

University of Warwick, Ecology and Epidemiology Group, Department of Biological Sciences, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK

*Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 611-617

A series of measures of calf welfare was developed through a process of expert consultation. A welfare assessment of group-housed calves was carried out on 53 UK dairy farms during the winter of 2000/01. The assessment used animal-based measures including direct observation of the calves and examination of their health history through a review of farm records. The findings from this were compiled into a profile of calf welfare which outlined the range of results for each measure used. The results fell into the three categories of respiratory health, nutrition and general appearance. A broad range of results was found across the farms visited for the measures in each of these categories. Some farms performed well for all measures taken, and no farms performed consistently badly across all aspects of calf welfare. The majority of farms combined aspects of both good and poor welfare performance.

Keywords: animal-based, animal welfare, calves, dairy, group housing, welfare assessment

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Selection of parameters for on-farm welfare-assessment protocols

in cattle and buffalo

C Winckler1*, J Capdeville2, G Gebresenbet3, B Hörning4, U Roiha5, M Tosi6 and S Waiblinger7

1 Research Centre for Animal Production and Technology, University of Göttingen, Driverstrasse 22, D-49377 Vechta, Germany

2 Institut d’Elévage, Lyon, France

3 Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden

4 University of Kassel, Witzenhausen, Germany

5 University of Helsinki, Mikkeli, Finland

6 University of Milan, Italy

7 Veterinary University, Vienna, Austria

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints: University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Department of Livestock Sciences, Gregor-

Mendel-Strasse 33, A-1180 Vienna, Austria;

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 619-624

On-farm welfare-assessment protocols should be based on valid, reliable and feasible indicators which reflect the animal’s state in the context of the housing and management system. This paper focuses on the selection of parameters for cattle and buffalo from welfare research, from assessment protocols used in different European countries and from the literature. Three groups of parameters are described: (1) parameters which can readily be included, such as lameness, injuries, body condition score, cleanliness, getting up/lying down behaviour, agonistic social behaviour, oral abnormal behaviours, human behaviour toward the animals and measures of the animal–human relationship; (2) parameters which require more information on reliability, such as indicators of good welfare and housing factors; and (3) parameters which are regarded as important but so far lack reliability in most countries, such as the incidence of clinical diseases and mortality.

Keywords: animal-based parameters, animal welfare, buffalo, cattle, on-farm welfare assessment

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G De Rosa*, C Tripaldi, F Napolitano§, F Saltalamacchia, F Grasso, V Bisegna and A Bordi

Dipartimento di Scienze zootecniche e Ispezione degli alimenti, Università degli Studi di Napoli ‘Federico II’ — Via Università 133, 80055 Portici (NA), Italy

Istituto sperimentale per la zootecnia — Via Salaria 31, 00016 Monterotondo (Roma), Italy

§ Dipartimento di Scienze delle Produzioni Animali, Università degli Studi della Basilicata — Via N Sauro 85, 85100 Potenza, Italy

*Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 625-629

The aim of this study was to evaluate the intra-observer repeatability of some animal-related variables which could be used in welfare-assessment protocols at farm level. Recordings were performed on seven dairy farms (four for cattle and three for buffaloes). The animals were observed on three occasions at three-week intervals. The variables collected for each animal were behaviour during milking (stepping and kicking), avoidance distance, lameness, and cleanliness. For each farm and each variable, intra-observer repeatability was computed using the Kendall coefficient of concordance (W). A ratio between the variance of the animal and the sum of the latter with the error variance was also calculated using a model of analysis of variance with one factor (animal), to give a further measure of repeatability. These two methods yielded similar results. In particular, in dairy cattle, a high repeatability for avoidance distance, stepping, lameness and cleanliness was observed, whereas for buffaloes avoidance distance and stepping were the repeatable variables.

Keywords: animal welfare, buffalo, cattle, performance criteria, repeatability, welfare monitoring

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Husbandry and Animal health on organic pig farms in Austria

J Baumgartner*, T Leeb, T Gruber and R Tiefenbacher

Institute for Animal Husbandry and Welfare, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1, A-1210 Vienna, Austria

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 631-635

Expectations of retailers and consumers regarding animal health and welfare and meat quality are particularly high for organic products. The aim of this study was therefore to provide an overview of the health and welfare of pigs on organic farms in Austria. Eighty-four organic pig farms were investigated. The farmers were interviewed using a questionnaire. In addition to clinical examination, the pigs were monitored at slaughter to determine the prevalence of organ lesions. The average herd size was 20.1 productive sows in the sow units and 84 fattening pigs in the finishing units. All farms used indoor production systems and provided straw to the pigs. Pregnant sows and finishers had access to an outdoor run in more than 90% of farms, but less than 15% of farms had outdoor runs for lactating sows and weaners. In more than 75% of the herds, endoparasites were found in faecal samples. About 50% of slaughter pigs displayed milk spots on the liver, 24% had pneumonic lesions and 18% showed mange. The results indicate that preventive measures in husbandry, management and hygiene must be intensified to improve animal health and welfare on organic pig farms and to meet the expectations of the consumers.

Keywords: animal health, animal welfare, Austria, husbandry, organic farming, pig

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J E L Day*, H Kelly, A Martins and S A Edwards

ADAS Pig Research Unit, ADAS Terrington, Terrington St Clement, Kings Lynn PE34 4PW, UK

Department of Agriculture, King George VI Building, University of Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK

*Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 637-641

Organic farming is based on the premise that animal welfare is safeguarded primarily through good management; only when this fails are veterinary medicines used to intervene. As this premise is frequently quoted in marketing strategies, there is a need to assess the efficacy of this approach to reassure consumers. To move towards this assessment, a survey was conducted between August 1999 and April 2002 on nine organic pig farms located predominantly in the South West of England. This combined direct measurements of animals and facilities with structured questions to staff. The mean herd size (±standard error of mean) was 212±74 sows, with all progeny being reared outdoors from farrowing to finish. The herds had been in existence for an average of 37±7.0 months. Mange and lice were the highest-ranking current health concerns, and post-mortem report of endoparasitism was the highest-ranking historical health concern chosen by producers from a list pre-written by the experimenters. The main welfare issues reported by the primary stockperson were related to keeping stock clean and dry during periods of high rainfall, managing porcine dermatitis and nephropathy syndrome (PDNS) and postweaning multisystemic wasting syndrome (PMWS) within their herd, and recruiting and retaining good quality personnel. Facility assessment indicated good living conditions, with the exception of some wet paddocks during winter. Sow condition scores were not significantly different from accepted target values during pregnancy, at farrowing, or at weaning. Levels of lameness, skin damage and cleanliness did not cause concern in any class of stock.

Keywords: animal welfare, organic production, pig

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R Geers*, B Petersen, K Huysmans, S Knura-Deszczka, M De Becker,

S Gymnich, D Henot, S Hiss and H Sauerwein

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universitaet Bonn, Germany

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 643-647

Current research is focusing on integrated longitudinal assessment of animal welfare at farm-level. Housing and management systems may influence pain, discomfort, fear, hunger and abnormal behaviour of farm animals. Poor health records and increased levels of haptoglobin have been shown to correlate with an unfavourable environment but, as yet, few data are available regarding variation between individual animals. Hence, a project was carried out using 78 pig farms (farrow-to-finish), 19–20 in each season, with data on housing and management being collected during visits. At slaughter, pathological findings and blood samples were taken from 60 pigs from each farm. Blood samples were analysed for Lawsonia intracellularis (PIA), Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, salmonella, and haptoglobin values (HAP) (10 samples). Data were analysed with descriptive statistics and analysis of variance. Housing and management characteristics were considered separately and integrated according to Berns (1996). Pigs from higher-ranking farms (ie those scoring higher for housing [space score] and management [sanitary barriers, cleaning, disinfection, climatic control, breeding protocol]) showed lower HAP levels (P<0.04), with lower within-farm variability (P<0.06). HAP levels were higher in pigs infected with PIA (P<0.04) or having lung lesions (P<0.02). A negative correlation was found between fasting before transport and lung lesions, HAP levels being lower when pigs with lung lesions were fasted. Haptoglobin sampling in the slaughterline is, therefore, relevant for integrative welfare assessment of slaughter pigs at individual level and for longitudinal monitoring at farm level.

Keywords: animal welfare, haptoglobin, health, housing, management, pig

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Developing a welfare assessment system for USE IN commercial organic egg production

L Hegelund*, J T Sørensen and N F Johansen

Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences (DIAS), Department of Animal Health and Welfare, PO Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark

The National Department of Poultry Production, Udkaersvej 15, DK-8200 Skejby, Denmark

*Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 649-653

A welfare assessment system is being developed for commercial organic egg production based on indicators of behaviour, health, system, and management, which is the general Danish Institute for Agricultural Science (DIAS) concept for assessing animal welfare at farm level. The welfare assessment system works as an advisory tool for farmers, helping them to improve welfare in their flocks. Identification of individual animals in organic egg production is impossible; therefore, management and welfare assessment are based on flock evaluation. Mortality is often a major welfare problem in organic egg production, to some extent caused by inefficient disease detection and control. Health indicators are therefore closely monitored, including variations in live weight, mortality, food and water consumption, and autopsies. Severe outbreaks of feather pecking and cannibalism causing excess mortality are often induced by the presence of stressors. Various stressors, as well as indicators of stress, are therefore included in the welfare indicator protocol. Finally the daily management effort and routines are evaluated on the basis of a management plan prepared by the farmer and a consultant in cooperation, as well as by use of interviews.

Keywords: animal welfare, decision support, on-farm studies, organic poultry production

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Can a modified Latency-To-Lie test be used to validate gait-scoring results in commercial broiler flocks?

C Berg* and G S Sanotra

* Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, PO Box 234, SE-532 23 Skara, Sweden

Department of Animal Science and Animal Health, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Grønnegårdsvej 8, DK-1870 Frederiksberg C, Copenhagen, Denmark

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 655-659

Bodily contact with water is a novel and aversive experience for broiler chickens, and this has been used when designing the Latency to Lie (LTL) test. The original testing procedure, in which the birds are tested in groups, involves a certain settling period, which makes the test time-consuming to carry out on commercial broiler farms. Our modifications of the LTL test for on-farm use mean that a) the birds are tested individually without visual contact with other birds; and b) the water tub is already filled with water when the birds are placed in it. The results from the LTL tests can then be compared with the scores achieved for each individual bird on the commonly used ‘gait scoring’ procedure. At 14 farms participating in a larger survey, we used three birds of each gait score from 0 to 4 (when available) for LTL testing. The time spent standing before making the first attempt to lie down was recorded. The results show a clear negative correlation (r = –0.86, P < 0.001) between time spent standing and gait score. The mean LTL values for the different gait scores were all significantly (P<0.01) different. There was no significant difference in LTL results between flocks. The method described appears to be well suited for on-farm use. If further developed, it could become a useful tool in monitoring programmes for the ongoing efforts aiming at decreasing the levels of leg weakness in modern broiler production.

Keywords: animal welfare, chicken, lameness, latency to lie, leg weakness, poultry

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A Butterworth*, N A Reeves, T G Knowles and S C Kestin

Clinical Veterinary Science, Bristol University Veterinary School, Langford,

North Somerset BS40 5DU, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 661-667

In the UK, broiler chickens are normally slaughtered at about six weeks of age when they weigh approximately 2.2kg; this contrasts with the growth of an ‘unimproved’ traditional strain of bird such as a White Sussex, which would weigh about 800g at the same age. Lameness, characterised by abnormal gait, posture and impaired walking ability, can be prevalent in these rapidly growing birds and has been highlighted as a major welfare concern. It is during the later stages of rearing, when the bird is becoming heavy and may be achieving weight gains of over 50g per day, that lameness begins to have an economic and welfare impact on the flock and to compromise the behaviour of large numbers of birds. A study was carried out to identify potential differences in the expression of genes between groups of lame and normal broiler chickens using subtraction hybridisation. The first group comprised lame birds with measurable gait abnormalities, and the second group comprised sound (not lame) birds. Both populations came from within the same flock. After extraction of mRNA and creation of cDNA, subtractive hybridisation was performed to eliminate genetic sequences common to both populations. The resultant DNA was separated and presented for sequence data analysis and comparison with a large sequence database. Some examples of the subtracted sequences detected are given, and the potential significance of these sequence differences at the individual and group level is discussed.

Keywords: animal welfare, broiler, genetic, genome, lameness, subtraction hybridisation

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Use of Conjoint Analysis to Weight Welfare Assessment Measures for Broiler Chickens in UK Husbandry Systems

S M Haslam* and S C Kestin

Division of Farm Animal Science, School of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 669-675

For the purposes of farm animal welfare assessment, Farm Assurance Schemes and enforcement of animal welfare legislation, a requirement arises for a unitary welfare score which may be the amalgamation of several animal welfare measures. In amalgamating measures, weighting to reflect the importance of the individual measures for animal welfare is desirable. A study is described in which conjoint analysis was used to collect and evaluate expert opinion to weight a number of welfare assessment measures for the importance of each to broiler welfare in UK husbandry systems. The statistically combined opinion of the experts consulted revealed the weighting factors of the welfare assessment measures selected, with respect to the importance for bird welfare, to be: 0.26 for mortality levels on the growing unit; 0.24 for the level of leg weakness; 0.16 for the level of hock burn; 0.14 for stocking density; 0.10 for enrichment provision; and, 0.10 for the level of emergency provision. Criteria for selection of welfare assessment measures for use in the field, and level of agreement between experts consulted for the study, are discussed. It is concluded that weightings of welfare assessment measures by expert opinion, using conjoint analysis, might be used in the construction of a welfare index for assessment of broiler welfare on-farm. Such an index should not be considered as a ‘gold standard’ for welfare measurement but as an evolving standard for welfare assessment, based on current knowledge.

Keywords: animal welfare, broiler chicken, conjoint analysis, welfare assessment measures, welfare index

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G Singh Sanotra*, C Berg and J Damkjer Lund

* Department of Animal Science and Animal Health, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Grønnegårdsvej 8, DK-1870 Frederiksberg C, Copenhagen, Denmark

Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, PO Box 234, SE-532 23 Skara, Sweden

The Danish Animal Welfare Society, Alhambravej 15, DK-1826 Frederiksberg C, Denmark

*Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 677-683

In Denmark and Sweden, surveys were undertaken to estimate the prevalence of leg problems in conventional broiler production. The Danish survey included 28 Ross 208 flocks, and the Swedish survey included 15 Ross 208 and 16 Cobb flocks. Leg problems included reduced walking ability (gait), tibial dyschondroplasia (TD), varus/valgus deformations (VV) and foot-pad dermatitis (FPD). Danish Ross chicks showed a significantly higher prevalence of gait score>0, gait score>2 and TD, but a lower prevalence of VV, than Swedish Ross chicks. Cobb chicks showed a significantly higher prevalence of gait score>0, gait score>2 and TD than Swedish Ross chicks, a significantly higher prevalence of VV than Danish Ross chicks, and a significantly lower prevalence of FPD than both Danish and Swedish Ross chicks. The two genotypes of Swedish chicks showed similar relationships between body weight and probability of gait score>0, TD and VV, indicating that the difference in prevalence of these leg problems may be due to the difference in mean body weight at slaughter age. At body weights below 2300g, Danish chicks showed a higher probability of gait score>2 than Swedish chicks. Furthermore, at body weights below 1900g, Danish chicks had a higher probability of TD than Swedish chicks, whereas at body weights above 2200g they had a lower probability of TD. This indicates that the difference in prevalence of TD between Danish and Swedish chicks was due to differences in mean body weight at slaughter age as well as housing conditions. Therefore, further studies on the risk factors in relation to management and housing conditions are required.

Keywords: animal welfare, broilers, gait, lameness, varus and valgus deformations, walking ability

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F W Grayson

Grazing Animals Project, Strathairlie, Carr Bank Road, Milnthorpe, Cumbria LA7 7LE, UK;

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 685-688

Nature conservationists frequently use domestic livestock to graze unimproved semi-natural vegetation in order to achieve the ecological objectives that they are seeking for the sites that they manage. This paper reviews the role of the Grazing Animals Project in raising awareness of the factors that affect the health, safety and general welfare of the animals involved in this activity. It also describes the measures being undertaken to ensure that the people charged with the care of grazing livestock on nature reserves are best equipped to deliver the management targets for the land without compromising the well-being of the animals.

Keywords: animal selection, animal welfare, conservation, disease, grazing, nutrition

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C Leeb*, C Henstridge, K Dewhurst and K Bazeley

University of Bristol, Department of Clinical Veterinary Sciences, Division of Farm Animal Sciences, Langford BS40 5DU, UK

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 689-694

Development agencies and animal welfare charities try to improve the health and welfare of livestock in the developing world by educating owners and providing healthcare. The impact assessment of these projects relies mainly upon input-related parameters (eg number of animals treated or educational lectures delivered). The aim of this study was to investigate whether animal-based parameters, such as scores for skin lesions, body condition and lameness, could be used to assess the impact of interventions by development agencies on working donkeys. A general checklist for integument assessment of livestock, developed and then tested on two British farms, was redefined for assessment of equine animals in West Kenya. In total, 346 donkeys were assessed over four days with a mobile clinic of the Kenyan Society for the Protection and Care of Animals, using 25 animal-based parameters. The checklist was easy to use: the parameters could be scored using visual assessment or palpation, and the procedure was completed in approximately 5min per animal. The method was found to be acceptable for owners and animal health technicians, and no special equipment was required. Significant observations included a reduced frequency of leg lesions when head-tethering (as opposed to leg-tethering) was used, and a reduced frequency of foot lesions in regions previously visited by the charity. This animal-based method proved that the charity had made a positive impact on donkey welfare through owner education.

Keywords: animal welfare, development intervention, donkey, impact assessment

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D J Mellor* and K J Stafford

*Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre, Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, College of Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North,

New Zealand

Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre, Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 695-698

Although major progress has been made during the last 50 years in understanding the causes of, and devising methods to minimise, neonatal mortality and morbidity in farm animals, almost all of this progress has been made without an explicit animal welfare focus. Nevertheless, knowledgeable intervention at birth now markedly reduces the total amount of animal welfare compromise that would otherwise occur. In assessing the degree of welfare compromise in other contexts three orientations are apparent. These emphasise biological function, affective state and natural living. In the present paper the significance of these orientations in an assessment of welfare compromise in newborn lambs, kids, calves, deer calves, foals and piglets, conducted previously, is examined. It is concluded that: 1) it was appropriate to emphasise biological function during the research which improved the management of newborns, but this emphasis was not sufficient to characterise the nature and degree of welfare compromise the newborn might experience; 2) a focus on affective state, and particularly on noxious sensations, more appropriately allowed an initial assignment of different degrees of compromise caused by neonatal breathlessness, hypoxia, hunger, sickness and pain; and 3) the notion that farm animals should be left to fend for themselves in a natural state at the time of birth when knowledgeable intervention would markedly reduce neonatal suffering contradicts our duty to care for the animals in our control. Finally, on-farm assessments of neonatal welfare compromise would be possible, but they would need to allow for the prevalence and severity of each condition, which can vary widely depending on the species and local circumstances.

Keywords: affective state, animal welfare, biological function, natural living, neonatal welfare assessment

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S H Møller*, S W Hansen and J T Sørensen

Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Health and Welfare,

PO Box 50, 8830 Tjele, Denmark

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 699-703

Most on-farm welfare assessment systems have been developed for use in dairy and pig farms. These production systems are non-synchronous, in the sense that the same processes occur continuously throughout the year. Animal welfare during most or all phases of production may therefore be assessed at any time of the year, except for some effects of season. Many domesticated farm animals such as sheep, goats, deer and mink are seasonally synchronised in their production, in the same way as were their wild ancestors. A comprehensive welfare assessment system including animal-based indicators for these species must therefore take an entire production cycle into consideration. This can be illustrated by a welfare assessment protocol developed and tested by the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences (DIAS) for mink production. The DIAS concept is based on indicators from four sources: the system, the system’s management, animal behaviour, and animal health. An advantage of seasonality is that the measurement of welfare indicators can be optimised and standardised in terms of age/season and sample size, making reliable results relatively cheap to obtain. Furthermore, there is ample time to plan the requisite interventions. A disadvantage of seasonality is that the entire herd may have been at risk when a welfare problem is disclosed by direct animal-based indicators; for example, the entire herd may have been exposed to a social grouping causing bite marks, which can be observed at pelting. Based on observation of the social grouping, this can be corrected before fighting and biting occurs. Based on observation of the bite marks, corrections are postponed until next season. Welfare assessment intended for decision support in a synchronous production system should therefore include a higher proportion of early indicators based on the system and management, in order to prevent the development of potential welfare problems involving the entire herd. The assessment of animal-based indicators may be relatively cheap and more reliable in synchronous production compared to non-synchronous production, and these indicators are therefore given high priority as they reflect the welfare resulting from the corrections made based on indirect system and management indicators.

Keywords: animal welfare, mink, synchronous production

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C Sighieri, D Tedeschi, C De Andreis, L Petri§ and P Baragli*

Department of Veterinary Anatomy, Biochemistry and Physiology, University of Pisa, viale delle Piagge 2, 56124 Pisa, Italy

Labor Laboratories Srl, via Rosellini 11, 56124 Pisa, Italy

§ Idioscuri, Italian School of Veterinary Physiotherapy, loc 1 Cappuccini, 52050 Siena, Italy

* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:

Abstract Animal Welfare 2003, 12: 705-708

This paper describes how man can enter the social hierarchy of the horse by mimicking the behaviour and stance it uses to establish dominance. A herd is organised according to a dominance hierarchy established by means of ritualised conflict. Dominance relationships are formed through these confrontations: one horse gains the dominant role and others identify themselves as subordinates. This study was conducted using five females of the Haflinger breed, totally unaccustomed to human contact, from a free-range breeding farm. The study methods were based on the three elements fundamental to the equilibrium of the herd: flight, herd instinct and hierarchy. The trainer–horse relationship was established in three phases: retreat, approach and association. At the end of the training sessions, all of the horses were able to respond correctly to the trainer. These observations suggest that it is possible to manage unhandled horses without coercion by mimicking their behaviour patterns.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour patterns, dominance, unhandled horse

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