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Animals 2015, 5(4), 934-950;

On-FarmWelfare Assessment Protocol for Adult Dairy Goats in Intensive Production Systems

Department of Veterinary Science and Public Health (DIVET), Università degli Studi di Milano,Via G. Celoria, Milan 20133, Italy
Faculdade Medicina Veterinária, Universidade de Lisboa, Avenida da Universidade Técnica-Pólo Universitário Alto da Ajuda, Lisbon 1300-477, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Clive J. C. Phillips
Received: 27 July 2015 / Revised: 14 September 2015 / Accepted: 18 September 2015 / Published: 25 September 2015
Full-Text   |   PDF [715 KB, uploaded 25 September 2015]   |  

Simple Summary

The Animal Welfare Indicators (AWIN) project developed a practical welfare assessment protocol for lactating dairy goats in intensive husbandry systems, using animal-based indicators that cover the whole multidimensional concept of animal welfare. The strict collaboration between scientists and stakeholders resulted in an easy-to-use protocol that provides farmers or veterinarians with comprehensive but clear feedback on the welfare status of the herd in less than three hours. The protocol, which highlights key points and motivates farmers to achieve improvements, has received much attention from interested parties.


Within the European AWIN project, a protocol for assessing dairy goats’ welfareon the farm was developed. Starting from a literature review, a prototype includinganimal-based indicators covering four welfare principles and 12 welfare criteria was set up.The prototype was tested in 60 farms for validity, reliability, and feasibility. After testing theprototype, a two-level assessment protocol was proposed in order to increase acceptabilityamong stakeholders. The first level offers a more general overview of the welfare status,based on group assessment of a few indicators (e.g., hair coat condition, latency to thefirst contact test, severe lameness, Qualitative Behavior Assessment), with no or minimalhandling of goats and short assessment time required. The second level starts if welfareAnimals 2015, 5 935problems are encountered in the first level and adds a comprehensive and detailed individualevaluation (e.g., Body Condition Score, udder asymmetry, overgrown claws), supported byan effective sampling strategy. The assessment can be carried out using the AWIN Goatapp. The app results in a clear visual output, which provides positive feedback on welfareconditions in comparison with a benchmark of a reference population. The protocol maybe a valuable tool for both veterinarians and technicians and a self-assessment instrumentfor farmers. View Full-Text
Keywords: dairy goat; animal welfare; on-farm welfare assessment; animal-based indicator dairy goat; animal welfare; on-farm welfare assessment; animal-based indicator

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Battini, M.; Stilwell, G.; Vieira, A.; Barbieri, S.; Canali, E.; Mattiello, S. On-FarmWelfare Assessment Protocol for Adult Dairy Goats in Intensive Production Systems. Animals 2015, 5, 934-950.

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