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Towards the creation of a welfare assessment system in intensive beef cattle farms.

By F. Gottardo, M. Brscic, B. Contiero, G. Cozzi, I. Andrighetto

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This study aimed to develop an assessment scheme for the evaluation at farm level of beef cattle welfare in the intensive rearing system that is capable of both identifying weak points in animal welfare and grading farms to such extent. The basic principle of the method was the avoidance of animal handling and the prolonged observation of cattle using animal-based and resource provision measures grouped in four classes housing systems and facilities; health and cleanliness; animal behaviour and reactivity; and quality of management and stockmanship. Each parameter was graded giving the highest scores to the best option for animal welfare, and the threshold value for distinguishing good from poor welfare conditions is set primarily on the results of scientific reports and investigations. The protocol was applied to 102 Italian intensive beef cattle farms rearing >300 young bulls/year. Regarding housing and facilities, the study showed that space allowance and space at the manger were the most frequent critical points. Within the poor welfare farms, >80% provided <3.5 m2/head to bulls weighing >500 kg, and none adopted a feeding frontage of at least 60 cm/head. Negatively judged farms compared with those ranked in the good welfare area for health and cleanliness showed a higher incidence of emergency slaughter (score 1.7: >1% vs. score 3: 0.5-1

Date 2009
Publication Title Italian Journal of Animal Science
Volume 8
Issue Supplement 1
Pages 325-342
ISBN/ISSN 1594-4077
DOI 10.4081/ijas.2009.s1.325
Author Address Dipartimento di Scienze Animali, Universita degli Studi di Padova, Viale dell'Universita 16, 35020 Legnaro (PD),
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal housing
  3. Animal husbandry
  4. Animal rights
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Cattle
  7. Farms
  8. Intensive farming
  9. Mammals
  10. Meat animals
  11. peer-reviewed
  12. space
  1. peer-reviewed