Selection of parameters for on-farm welfare-assessment protocols in cattle and buffalo
On-farm welfare-assessment protocols should be based on valid, reliable and feasible indicators which reflect the animal's state in the context of the housing and management system. This paper focuses on the selection of parameters for cattle and buffalo from welfare research, from assessment protocols used in different European countries and from the literature. Three groups of parameters are described: (1) parameters which can readily be included, such as lameness, injuries, body condition score, cleanliness, getting up/lying down behaviour, agonistic social behaviour, oral abnormal behaviours, human behaviour toward the animals and measures of the animal–human relationship; (2) parameters which require more information on reliability, such as indicators of good welfare and housing factors; and (3) parameters which are regarded as important but so far lack reliability in most countries, such as the incidence of clinical diseases and mortality.
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