Next Article in Journal
Can Hairy Vetch Cover Crop Affects Arsenic Accumulation in Vegetable Crops?
Next Article in Special Issue
Case Study of an Automatic Enrichment Device for Laying Hens on a Free-Range Laying Hen Farm
Previous Article in Journal
Techno-Economic Analysis of Extruding-Expelling of Soybeans to Produce Oil and Meal
Previous Article in Special Issue
Risk Factors for Dystocia and Perinatal Mortality in Extensively Kept Angus Suckler Cows in Germany
Article Menu
Issue 5 (May) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle

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

Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool, Leahurst, Neston CH64 7TE, UK
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;
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)
PDF [243 KB, uploaded 28 April 2019]


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
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

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.

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]
Agriculture EISSN 2077-0472 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top