The assessment of herd welfare is a scientific discipline that is rapidly developing. The scientific community plays an important role in delivering appropriate, repeatable, valid and feasible models for this assessment. Unfortunately, there are different feelings regarding the welfare of animals and it is imperative for its assessment that certain agreement on the meaning of animal welfare is accepted. Then it is necessary to look at the goals of the models of welfare assessment because different goals require a different combination of welfare indicators. The different models for welfare assessment can be categorized broadly into research, legislative requirements, certification systems, and advisory/management tools. These models may have various goals: quantification of welfare, provision of welfare assurance or welfare management. However, it is widely accepted that welfare is best assessed with multiple different measures; therefore, a welfare assessment model for a livestock herd can include two types of measure: a description of the housing system and management (indirect indicators) and data recording on how the animals react to the system (direct indicators). The first type provides information on risk factors for welfare problems. Direct measures on the animals provide information on their response to the environment and are more direct measures of welfare than their counterparts, but direct welfare indicators alone do not point out the causes of impaired welfare. Because welfare is a complex construct, different approaches for the aggregation of the different aspects of welfare have been proposed, although the aggregation in an overall welfare value is not sufficient. The thresholds between acceptable and unacceptable welfare levels have to be included in the model of welfare assessment but it seems useful to set certain minimum standards for each single welfare aspect. Afterward, judging the validity of a common welfare assessment model is important. In addition to considering its aim and the fact that a gold standard for animal welfare does not exist, it aids in identifying some widely accepted reference parameters which cannot be utilized in the field (i.e. ACTH challenge, immune system parameters, etc.), but which can be utilized to validate the field models. A new model has been recently set up in our Institute, which is based on many environmental factors included into two clusters: life conditions and feeding. A further cluster considers the animal responses in general and to the previous factors; specific indicators of behavioural, physiological, performance and health type have been included in this last cluster.
|Numero di pagine||23|
|Rivista||Italian Journal of Animal Science|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Pubblicato - 2009|
- animal welfare
- dairy cow
- welfare evaluation