Special Issue "Animal Welfare Assessment Protocol"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Welfare".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Paul Koene
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Animal Welfare, Wageningen Livestock Research, Wageningen University & Research, De Elst 1, 6708 WD Wageningen, The Netherlands
Interests: Animal behaviour, Animal ecology, Animal health and welfare, Farm and captive animals,
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Patrick H. Zimmerman
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Noldus Information Technology, 6709 PA Wageningen, The Netherlands
Interests: animal behavior and welfare

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Assuring animal welfare is one of the key issues in continuation of keeping animals. Many types of stakeholders influence the keeping of farm, zoo, laboratory, and pet animals. Each stakeholder has specific demands for and expectations of keeping those animals and species, based on economy, biology, ethics, or public opinion. Assuring animal welfare has to be done based on protocols that are linked to standards that—in an ideal world—are adopted by the stakeholders. This is important because ethics, opinions, and knowledge related to keeping animals is continuously changing, and social media is also having an effect on welfare standards and protocols. This Special Issue focuses on animal welfare protocols developed and used for monitoring welfare in relevant human-influenced animal conditions and practices, i.e., animal husbandry, zoos, laboratories, pets, veterinary practices, and wildlife. There is a continuing need for appropriate protocols and welfare indicators, such as behavioral and/or physiological indicators. In this Special Issue, the purpose is to focus mainly on protocols focused on the actual welfare state of the animals and not so much on the expected welfare state based on environmental or procedural circumstances, resources, or management.

Original manuscripts that address aspects of animal welfare assessment protocols are invited for this Special Issue. Topics of special interest are the development of protocols for animal welfare assessment that (1) may be applied to many or all animal species kept by humans; (2) are shown to be consistent, valid, and repeatable; (3) produce the same outcomes for different observers or assessors; and (4) use only information of the animals’ welfare state.

Dr. Paul Koene
Dr. Patrick H. Zimmerman
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Assessment protocols
  • Animal welfare
  • Environmental variation
  • Species variation

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Development of a Robust Canine Welfare Assessment Protocol for Use in Dog (Canis Familiaris) Catch-Neuter-Return (CNR) Programmes
Animals 2019, 9(8), 564; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9080564 - 16 Aug 2019
Abstract
The aim of this study was to develop a welfare assessment tool based on objective, reliable and relevant measures to be applied to individual dogs as they underwent a Catch-Neuter-Return (CNR) programme. A modified Delphi method and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to develop a welfare assessment tool based on objective, reliable and relevant measures to be applied to individual dogs as they underwent a Catch-Neuter-Return (CNR) programme. A modified Delphi method and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) approach was used to develop the composite canine welfare assessment protocol, comprising both animal-based and resource-based measures. This draft welfare assessment protocol was then trialed and refined in existing CNR programmes to identify key control points where individual dog welfare may be moderately or significantly compromised in the CNR process. The results show that animal-based welfare indicators, e.g., pain behaviours, which provide a more direct indication of an animal’s welfare state, require training and skill to recognise, whilst resource-based indicators are simple to measure but act only as indirect measures of welfare. We concluded that whilst CNR projects can potentially improve the health and welfare of free-roaming dogs in the long-term, the risk of short-term welfare harms during the CNR process is high. Thus, it is essential for staff involved in dog population management programmes to assess the welfare state of dogs in CNR and take remedial action to safeguard individual dog welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare Assessment Protocol)
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Open AccessArticle
A Pilot Welfare Assessment of Working Ponies on Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
Animals 2019, 9(7), 433; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070433 - 09 Jul 2019
Abstract
Many working equids in developing countries experience poor health and welfare due to environmental and management factors. Collecting baseline data on these populations is essential to inform education projects to improve equid health and welfare. Gili Trawangan is an island in Indonesia that [...] Read more.
Many working equids in developing countries experience poor health and welfare due to environmental and management factors. Collecting baseline data on these populations is essential to inform education projects to improve equid health and welfare. Gili Trawangan is an island in Indonesia that has no motor vehicles and a working pony population of approximately 200. This pilot study sought to determine baseline data on their health, welfare, and husbandry to inform future health and welfare strategies. A cross-sectional study was performed in May 2017 consisting of a pony cart driver questionnaire (n = 33) and a basic pony health examination (n = 38). The body condition scores of ponies were 3/5 (60.5%), 2/5 (31.6%), and 1/5 (7.9%), while 38% and 92% of ponies had lameness and foot pathology, respectively, and 31 ponies (86.1%) had at least one wound. Thirty percent of cart drivers stated they would work their ponies despite evidence of injury or illness. Limited education, poor access to veterinary services, and remoteness pose barriers to improving pony health and welfare. Our results indicate a need for, and can help inform, targeted education programmes to improve the lives of working ponies and protect livelihoods and tourism on Gili Trawangan. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare Assessment Protocol)
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Open AccessArticle
Slaughter of Pregnant Cattle in Denmark: Prevalence, Gestational Age, and Reasons
Animals 2019, 9(7), 392; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070392 - 27 Jun 2019
Abstract
The slaughter of pregnant cattle gives rise to ethical controversy. We estimated the prevalence of pregnant cattle, elucidated the reasons for their slaughter, and in light of our findings, discussed the ethics of sending pregnant cattle for slaughter. Among 825 female cattle >353 [...] Read more.
The slaughter of pregnant cattle gives rise to ethical controversy. We estimated the prevalence of pregnant cattle, elucidated the reasons for their slaughter, and in light of our findings, discussed the ethics of sending pregnant cattle for slaughter. Among 825 female cattle >353 days of age admitted to a Danish abattoir, 187 (23%) were found to be pregnant. There was no apparent difference in the proportion of pregnant animals between dairy and non-dairy cattle. “Health”-related slaughter was most frequent in dairy herds (70%), whereas “production”-related slaughter was most frequent in non-dairy herds (63%). While many farmers considered it unethical to slaughter pregnant cows without a good reason for doing so, many dairy farmers identified animal welfare as an important parameter in the decision, which was typically when the general condition of the cow or heifer would make it difficult for her to pass through calving and subsequent lactation. The many pregnant animals sent for slaughter were often the result of deliberate choices. Non-dairy farmers often kept a bull with their female cattle, and in many instances, this resulted in the mating of cattle intended for slaughter. Although considered ethically problematic by many dairy farmers, the slaughter of pregnant dairy cattle was often considered better for the cow compared to a stressful lactation period. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare Assessment Protocol)
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Open AccessArticle
Remote Identification of Sheep with Flystrike Using Behavioural Observations
Animals 2019, 9(6), 368; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060368 - 18 Jun 2019
Abstract
Flystrike is a major problem affecting sheep in Australia. Identification of ‘flystruck’ individuals is crucial for treatment; but requires labour-intensive physical examination. As the industry moves toward more low-input systems; there is a need for remote methods to identify flystruck individuals. The aim [...] Read more.
Flystrike is a major problem affecting sheep in Australia. Identification of ‘flystruck’ individuals is crucial for treatment; but requires labour-intensive physical examination. As the industry moves toward more low-input systems; there is a need for remote methods to identify flystruck individuals. The aim of this study was to investigate the behaviour of sheep with breech flystrike within a paddock setting. Video footage of sixteen Merino sheep; eight later confirmed with flystrike and eight without; was collected as they moved freely within the paddock with conspecifics. Quantitative behavioural measurements and a qualitative behavioural assessment (QBA) were conducted and compared to their breech conditions (i.e., faecal/urine staining; flystrike severity). Both qualitative and quantitative assessments indicated behavioural differences between flystruck and non-flystruck animals. Flystruck sheep had a behavioural profile characterised by restless behaviour; abnormal postures and reduced grazing time (p < 0.05). Furthermore; flystruck sheep were scored to have a more ‘exhausted/irritated’ demeanour using QBA (p < 0.05). The behavioural responses also corresponded to the flystrike severity scores and condition of the breech area. We conclude that remotely assessed behaviour of flystruck sheep diverges markedly from non-flystruck sheep; and thus could be a low-input method for identifying and treating affected animals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare Assessment Protocol)
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Review

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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
A Systematic Review of Precision Livestock Farming in the Poultry Sector: Is Technology Focussed on Improving Bird Welfare?
Animals 2019, 9(9), 614; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090614 - 27 Aug 2019
Abstract
Precision livestock farming (PLF) systems have the potential to improve animal welfare through providing a continuous picture of welfare states in real time and enabling fast interventions that benefit the current flock. However, it remains unclear whether the goal of PLF development has [...] Read more.
Precision livestock farming (PLF) systems have the potential to improve animal welfare through providing a continuous picture of welfare states in real time and enabling fast interventions that benefit the current flock. However, it remains unclear whether the goal of PLF development has been to improve welfare or increase production efficiency. The aims of this systematic literature review are to provide an overview of the current state of PLF in poultry farming and investigate whether the focus of PLF research has been to improve bird welfare. The study characteristics extracted from 264 peer-reviewed publications and conference proceedings suggest that poultry PLF has received increasing attention on a global scale, but is yet to become a widespread commercial reality. PLF development has most commonly focussed on broiler farming, followed by laying hens, and mainly involves the use of sensors (environmental and wearable) and cameras. More publications had animal health and welfare than production as either one of or the only goal, suggesting that PLF development so far has focussed on improving animal health and welfare. Future work should prioritise improving the rate of commercialisation of PLF systems, so that their potential to improve bird welfare might be realised. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare Assessment Protocol)
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Open AccessReview
Applying the Behavioural Change Wheel to Encourage Higher Welfare Food Choices
Animals 2019, 9(8), 524; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9080524 - 02 Aug 2019
Abstract
Over the last several decades, positive public attitudes towards animal welfare have continued to develop. Consumers’ attitudes towards farm animal welfare indicate increasing concern about animal welfare in food production. Yet, this growing interest in the lives of farm animals does not correspond [...] Read more.
Over the last several decades, positive public attitudes towards animal welfare have continued to develop. Consumers’ attitudes towards farm animal welfare indicate increasing concern about animal welfare in food production. Yet, this growing interest in the lives of farm animals does not correspond with a wholesale increase in demand for higher welfare products, providing evidence of the citizen-consumer attitude-behaviour gap (herein referred to as the attitude-behaviour gap). Minimising the attitude–behaviour gap and supporting consumers to make higher animal welfare choices may help producers to enhance the lives of farm animals. However, despite increasing awareness in this area, solutions to resolve this gap often focus on knowledge transfer and do not appear to have had a significant impact. The aim of this article is to review current knowledge around the attitude-behaviour gap, and situate it within the context of the behaviour change wheel; exploring the capabilities, opportunities, and motivations driving, as well as the barriers inhibiting consumers from making higher welfare food choices. Using this framework, the review aims to identify interventions that may boost consumer demand for higher welfare products sold at a premium price and provide suggestions for future research. Further work to increase understanding in this area is then also suggested. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare Assessment Protocol)
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