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Article

Assessing the Validity of Animal-Based Indicators of Sheep Health and Welfare: Do Observers Agree?

1
Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool, Leahurst, Neston CH64 7TE, UK
2
Section for Small Ruminant Research, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Institute for Production Animal Clinical Science, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, 4325 Sandnes, Norway
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agriculture 2019, 9(5), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9050088
Received: 15 March 2019 / Revised: 21 April 2019 / Accepted: 24 April 2019 / Published: 28 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Farm Animal Welfare)
Sixteen animal-based indicators of sheep welfare, previously selected by a stakeholder panel, and based on the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) Five Freedoms, were assessed in terms of the level of inter-observer agreement achieved during on-farm testing. Eight observers independently tested the 16 indicators on 1158 sheep from 38 farms in England and Wales. Overall inter-observer agreement was evaluated by Fleiss’s kappa (κ), and the pair-wise agreement of each observer was compared to a ‘test standard’ observer (TSO). Inter-observer assessments of the welfare indicators; dental abnormality, cleanliness score (ventral abdomen), mastitis, tail length, skin lesions, body condition scoring and lameness produced ‘fair to good’ levels of agreement (0.40 < κ < 0.75) and joint swellings had ‘excellent’ levels of agreement (κ ≥ 0.75). The very low apparent prevalence (<0.8%) of sheep with specific outcomes such as pruritis, wool loss, myiasis, thin body condition, diffuse or severe skin lesions limited kappa analysis for these indicators. Overall, findings suggest that observers of differing experience, training and occupation were reliable in assessing key animal-based indicators of sheep health and welfare. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare; sheep; observer agreement; on-farm assessment; welfare indicator animal welfare; sheep; observer agreement; on-farm assessment; welfare indicator
MDPI and ACS Style

Phythian, C.J.; Michalopoulou, E.; Duncan, J.S. Assessing the Validity of Animal-Based Indicators of Sheep Health and Welfare: Do Observers Agree? Agriculture 2019, 9, 88. https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9050088

AMA Style

Phythian CJ, Michalopoulou E, Duncan JS. Assessing the Validity of Animal-Based Indicators of Sheep Health and Welfare: Do Observers Agree? Agriculture. 2019; 9(5):88. https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9050088

Chicago/Turabian Style

Phythian, Clare J., Eleni Michalopoulou, and Jennifer S. Duncan 2019. "Assessing the Validity of Animal-Based Indicators of Sheep Health and Welfare: Do Observers Agree?" Agriculture 9, no. 5: 88. https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9050088

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