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Attempts to integrate different parameters into an overall picture of animal welfare using investigations in dairy loose houses as an example

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The aim of this study was to illustrate the integration of different parameters into an overall assessment of animal welfare on the basis of studies with dairy cows. Behavioural observations were carried out on 36 farms with cubicle houses. Summed variables of resting behaviour were constructed by summing the results for three to nine behaviours. These summed variables showed higher correlations with cubicle features than did single behaviours. Individual animals may react differently to the same causes (cubicle features), and adding up may compensate for these different reactions of individuals to the same causes. Most recorded behaviours correlated with one another; this could be interpreted as evidence for identical causes. A cubicle sum variable was constructed, giving scores for cubicle features. The cubicle sum variable showed higher correlations with resting behaviours than did single cubicle features. This suggests that certain behaviours are affected by several cubicle features (additive effects). This hypothesis was confirmed by multivariate analysis.
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Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; DAIRY COW; INDEX CONSTRUCTION; LOOSE HOUSING; PARAMETER INTEGRATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-11-01

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