Welfare assessment on Japanese dairy farms using the Animal Needs Index
The Animal Needs Index (ANI) is used for on-farm assessment of welfare in Austria. However, no synthetic welfare assessment system exists in Japan. We performed a welfare assessment of Japanese dairy farms using the ANI scoring system. On 25 farms, 36 dairy herds were assessed using the ANI35L/2000-cattle survey. On 10 dairy farms, 16 herds were housed in free-stall barns. The other 20 herds of 15 dairy farms were housed in tie-stall barns. This study was conducted between December 2004 and January 2005. The ANI scores ranged from 6.0 to 40.0 points (mean 17.8 points). The four high ranking herds on ANI value were housed in freestalls and allowed the use of outside areas. The 13 low ranking herds were housed in tie-stalls and were not allowed the use of outside areas. The free-stall herds had significantly higher ANI scores than tie-stall herds. The ANI scores of herds having access to outside areas were significantly higher than those of herds having no outside access. This scoring system might be useful for Japanese dairy farms. However, some assessment parameters contain subjective criteria such as cleanliness, floor slipperiness, and animal health. Further studies are necessary to improve the scoring system, in particular clarifying criteria related to those parameters.
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