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Integrating parameters to assess on-farm welfare

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Abstract:

Given the absence of a 'Golden Standard' for the objective determination of welfare, the collection and interpretation of data involving different parameters is essential for assessing the well-being of farm animals. The choice of parameters and the relative weights assigned to each of them are crucial for the outcome of the assessment. Both elements involve a certain degree of subjectivity. In this paper we discuss the basics of different methods used to integrate welfare parameters, focussing on the issue of scientific objectivity. We begin by addressing parameter selection, the assignment of parameter weightings or rankings and the qualifications necessary for 'experts' designing and applying the methodology. Five different approaches to integrating parameters are then discussed. The paper does not state a preference for any method, but aims to encourage discussion of key elements involved with the on-farm assessment of welfare.

Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; FARM ANIMALS; HUSBANDRY; PARAMETER INTEGRATION; WELFARE ASSESSMENT; WELFARE INDEX

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2003

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