Next Article in Journal
Association between Lameness and Indicators of Dairy Cow Welfare Based on Locomotion Scoring, Body and Hock Condition, Leg Hygiene and Lying Behavior
Previous Article in Journal
An Examination of an Iconic Trap-Neuter-Return Program: The Newburyport, Massachusetts Case Study
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessReview
Animals 2017, 7(11), 82;

Addressing the Challenges of Conducting Observational Studies in Sheep Abattoirs

Sydney School of Veterinary Science (B19), University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 September 2017 / Revised: 24 October 2017 / Accepted: 27 October 2017 / Published: 1 November 2017
Full-Text   |   PDF [355 KB, uploaded 1 November 2017]   |  

Simple Summary

Collecting data, particularly data on animal behavior, on-site at abattoirs, can be hindered by a series of challenges. These challenges are summarized and recommendations are offered for those planning similar studies. Particular emphasis is placed on examining interactions between dogs, handlers and sheep in animal-processing facilities because this is a significantly under-researched area in the literature. There is significant merit in collecting data via video-recording software, but the subsequent potential for hardware issues and sampling difficulties must be recognized and addressed.


The competing needs of maintaining productivity within abattoirs, and maintaining high standards of animal welfare, provide fertile grounds for applied research in animal behavior. However, there are challenges involved in capturing useful behavioral data from the supply chain (from paddock to processing plant). The challenges identified in this report are based on a review of the scientific literature as well as field study observations. This article describes those challenges as they relate to collecting behavioral data on livestock-herding dogs, humans and livestock as they interact in abattoirs, and provides insights and recommendations for others embarking on animal studies in confined spaces, as well as in commercial settings. Direct observation of livestock behavior permits animal-welfare assessments and evaluations of the efficacy of operations in unfamiliar and high-pressure contexts, such as abattoirs. This brief report summarizes the factors that must be considered when undertaking in situ studies in abattoirs. There is merit in passive behavioral data-collection using video-recording equipment. However, the potential for hardware issues and sampling difficulties must be anticipated and addressed. Future research directions and recommendations to avoid such issues are discussed. This information will be highly beneficial to future abattoir studies focusing on efficiency and animal welfare at commercial abattoirs. Furthermore, it may also be relevant to any analyses involving large cohorts of animals in a confined environment. View Full-Text
Keywords: herding dogs; sheep; livestock; abattoir; welfare; in situ observation herding dogs; sheep; livestock; abattoir; welfare; in situ observation

Figure 1

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).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Payne, E.; Starling, M.; McGreevy, P. Addressing the Challenges of Conducting Observational Studies in Sheep Abattoirs. Animals 2017, 7, 82.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Animals EISSN 2076-2615 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top