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Potential animal-centred indicators of dairy goat welfare

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Abstract:

This paper presents five tests based on behavioural and other animal-centred observations concerning dairy goat welfare. An emotional reactivity test (n = 40) classified the animals into different groups according to their behaviour in response to fear-eliciting stimuli, and identified anxious animals. Movement parameters and behaviour, as well as quantitative (number of cries) and qualitative (pitch, intensity, length) sound parameters were recorded. A dominance test (n = 35) based on antagonistic reactions resulted in three hierarchical groups (subordinate, n = 9; intermediate, n = 6; and dominant, n = 20). A test performed in the milking parlour (n = 108) showed that the order of passage was strongly preserved and linked to limb pathology and dominance index. Finally, a lameness test (12.5% were lame) and a standing up test (8.5% had problems getting up) showed that these two parameters were highly correlated. After some simplifications, these tests could form a goat welfare evaluation method.

Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; BEHAVIOUR; DOMINANCE; FEAR; GOAT; INDICATORS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-05-01

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