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Animals 2017, 7(12), 96; doi:10.3390/ani7120096

Should the Contribution of One Additional Lame Cow Depend on How Many Other Cows on the Farm Are Lame?

1
Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, University of Copenhagen, 1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
2
Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, 1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 October 2017 / Revised: 27 November 2017 / Accepted: 1 December 2017 / Published: 11 December 2017
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Abstract

Welfare Quality® proposes a system for aggregation according to which the total welfare score for a group of animals is a non-linear effect of the prevalence of welfare scores across the individuals within the group. Three assumptions serve to justify this: (1) experts do not follow a linear reasoning when they assess a welfare problem; (2) it serves to prevent compensation (severe welfare problems hidden by scoring well on other aspects of welfare); (3) experts agree on the weight of different welfare measures. We use two sources of data to examine these assumptions: animal welfare data from 44 Danish dairy farms with Danish Holstein Friesian cows, and data from a questionnaire study with a convenience sample of 307 experts in animal welfare, of which we received responses from over 50%. Our main results were: (1) the total group-level welfare score as assigned by experts is a non-linear function of the individual animal welfare states within the group; (2) the WQ system does not prevent what experts perceive as unacceptable compensation; (3) the level of agreement among experts appears to vary across measures. Our findings give rise to concerns about the proposed aggregation system offered by WQ. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare; aggregation; Welfare Quality®; lameness; expert perception; welfare assessment animal welfare; aggregation; Welfare Quality®; lameness; expert perception; welfare assessment
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sandøe, P.; Forkman, B.; Hakansson, F.; Andreasen, S.N.; Nøhr, R.; Denwood, M.; Lund, T.B. Should the Contribution of One Additional Lame Cow Depend on How Many Other Cows on the Farm Are Lame? Animals 2017, 7, 96.

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