Selection of Meat Inspection Data for an Animal Welfare Index in Cattle and Pigs in Denmark
Section for Animal Welfare and Disease Control, Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, University of Copenhagen, DK-1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
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Received: 27 September 2017 / Revised: 27 November 2017 / Accepted: 5 December 2017 / Published: 6 December 2017
Despite being important to the general public, the monitoring of animal welfare is not systematic. The Danish political parties agreed in 2012 to establish national animal welfare indices for cattle and pigs, and here we assess the potential for using data from the systematic meat inspection to contribute to such indices. We demonstrate that although a number of recordings may be relevant for animal welfare, differences in recording practices between slaughterhouses can be so large that correction is not deemed feasible. For example, significant differences in tail fractures in pigs and sows were recorded between abattoirs, despite the fact that this condition should be easier to diagnose compared to e.g., the more consistently recorded “chronic arthritis” in cows. The study findings suggest that some recordings may be useful for inclusion in animal welfare indices, but that their relevance should be assessed along with the recording practices if included. Furthermore, factors such as appropriate behaviour are also important to monitor as part of the welfare of both cattle and pigs.