How Can We Assess Positive Welfare in Ruminants?
Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie e Ambientali - Produzione, Territorio, Agroenergia, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milan, Italy
Dipartimento di Agraria, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, 80055 Portici, Italy
Scuola di Scienze Agrarie, Forestali, Alimentari ed Ambientali, Università degli Studi della Basilicata, 85100 Potenza, Italy
Animal Behaviour and Welfare, SRUC, Easter Bush Campus, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 July 2019 / Revised: 11 September 2019 / Accepted: 30 September 2019 / Published: 2 October 2019
The concern for better farm animal welfare has been greatly increasing among scientists, veterinarians, farmers, consumers, and the general public over many years. As a consequence, several indicators have been developed to assess animal welfare, and several specific protocols have been proposed for welfare evaluation. Most of the indicators developed so far focus on the negative aspects of animal welfare (e.g., lameness, lesions, diseases, presence of abnormal behaviours, high levels of stress hormones, and many more). However, the lack of negative welfare conditions does not necessarily mean that animals are in good welfare and have a good quality of life. To guarantee high welfare standards, animals should experience positive conditions that allow them to live a life that is really worth living. We reviewed the existing indicators of positive welfare for farmed ruminants and identified some gaps that still require work, especially in the domains of Nutrition and Health, and the need for further refinement of some of the existing indicators.