Can environmental variables replace some animal-based parameters in welfare assessment of dairy cows?

$25.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)

Buy Article:

Abstract:

Animal-related parameters best fulfil the requirements of a valid welfare assessment, but often they are less feasible than other parameters. Therefore, this paper examines whether animal-based parameters are connected with each other and with environmental factors in order to find out if some can be discarded without loss of information.

Eighty Austrian dairy herds (21-55 Simmental cows) housed in loose-housing cubicles were visited. Housing, management and the human-animal relationship were assessed. Animal-based parameters such as lameness, skin lesions and social behaviour were recorded. For the statistical analysis, Spearman correlation coefficients and regression trees with additional cross-validations for the assessment of the predictive performance of models were calculated.

The animal-based parameters could be explained by environmental variables only around 2/3 (goodness of fit). The calculated regression trees explained 62% of the percentage of lame animals, 58% of leg injuries on the carpal joints and 69% of the agonistic interactions. Leg injuries on the tarsal joints could be explained to quite a high degree (77%). Cross-validated regression trees, however, which are more significant for prediction on farms in excess of this study, accounted for 31% of the total variance of lameness, 44% of the leg injuries on the tarsal joints, 33% on the carpal joints and 25% of the agonistic interactions.

Only a few correlations between animal-related parameters were found: lameness was correlated with leg injuries on the tarsal joints and on the carpal joints. Leg injuries were correlated with each other.

Due to the lack of interrelations between animal-related parameters and the moderate prediction by environmental factors, we do not suggest replacing the investigated animal-related parameters for on-farm welfare assessment in dairy cattle.

Keywords: ANIMAL HEALTH; ANIMAL WELFARE; ANIMAL-BASED PARAMETERS; ASSESSMENT; DAIRY COWS; ENVIRONMENTAL PARAMETERS; ON-FARM WELFARE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2007

Related content

Tools

Favourites

Share Content

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
X
Cookie Policy
ingentaconnect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more