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Animals 2018, 8(7), 125; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8070125

Seasonal Differences in Animal Welfare Assessment of Family Farming Dual-Purpose Cattle Raised under Tropical Conditions

1
Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE 532 23 Skara, Sweden
2
Departamento de Reproducción, Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 04510 México, D.F., Mexico
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 June 2018 / Revised: 6 July 2018 / Accepted: 17 July 2018 / Published: 21 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Farm Animals)
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Simple Summary

Family-run cattle farms in the tropics deal with two distinct seasons, the dry and the rainy, where features such as resources, diseases and climate are variable. Nevertheless, an acceptable level of animal welfare must be maintained throughout the year. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether there were animal welfare issues at farms affected by either the dry or the rainy season. Forty-five dual-purpose family farms in the Mexican tropics were assessed via the Welfare Quality® protocol. The animal welfare assessment on these farms obtained better results during the dry season, hence the season presenting a greater risk to animal welfare of dual-purpose cattle raised under tropical conditions is the rainy season. However, there were management-related differences observed between the two seasons, and the dry season also had some animal welfare threats. The fact that farms scored higher during the dry season is possibly the result of farmer awareness, leading to modification of their systems to provide animals with the necessary inputs to meet their production needs. If these modifications, such as providing supplementary feed and water points were not fulfilled, then welfare conditions might have been jeopardized.

Abstract

Conditions on farms in the tropics can differ greatly depending on the season of the year. Characteristics such as disease prevalence, climate and availability of resources may not be constant all year around; however an acceptable level of animal welfare must be maintained throughout the year. Since it is neither practical nor economically feasible to perform several assessments per year, the purpose of this study was to define whether there were animal welfare issues at farms that were affected by the season to identify which season would present a greater risk to animal welfare, using a risk-based approach. Forty-five dual-purpose family farms in the Mexican tropics were assessed via the Welfare Quality® protocol. During the rainy season, 2.2% of the farms were classified as excellent, 57.8% as enhanced, 31.1% as acceptable and 8.9% as unclassified. In the dry season, 31.1% were classified as excellent, 68.9% as enhanced and none of the farms were categorized as acceptable or unclassified. Consequently, the season which presented the greatest risk to animal welfare of dual-purpose cattle raised under tropical conditions was the rainy season. However, there were management-related differences observed between the two seasons and the dry season also had some animal welfare threats. The fact that farms scored higher during the dry season is possibly the result of farmer awareness, leading to modification of their systems to provide animals with the necessary inputs to meet their production needs. If these modifications were not fulfilled, then welfare conditions might have been jeopardized. View Full-Text
Keywords: welfare assessment; tropical cattle; dry season; rainy season welfare assessment; tropical cattle; dry season; rainy season
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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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Hernandez, A.; Berg, C.; Westin, R.; Galina, C. Seasonal Differences in Animal Welfare Assessment of Family Farming Dual-Purpose Cattle Raised under Tropical Conditions. Animals 2018, 8, 125.

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