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Selection of Meat Inspection Data for an Animal Welfare Index in Cattle and Pigs in Denmark

By Soren Saxmose Nielson, Matthew James Denwood, Bjorn Forkman, Hans Houe

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Despite being important to the general public, the monitoring of animal welfare is not systematic. The Danish political parties agreed in 2012 to establish national animal welfare indices for cattle and pigs, and here we assess the potential for using data from the systematic meat inspection to contribute to such indices. We demonstrate that although a number of recordings may be relevant for animal welfare, differences in recording practices between slaughterhouses can be so large that correction is not deemed feasible. For example, significant differences in tail fractures in pigs and sows were recorded between abattoirs, despite the fact that this condition should be easier to diagnose compared to e.g., the more consistently recorded “chronic arthritis” in cows. The study findings suggest that some recordings may be useful for inclusion in animal welfare indices, but that their relevance should be assessed along with the recording practices if included. Furthermore, factors such as appropriate behaviour are also important to monitor as part of the welfare of both cattle and pigs.


Katie Osborn

Date 2017
Publication Title Animals
Volume 7
Issue 12
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615
Publisher Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
Location of Publication Basel, Switzerland
DOI 10.3390/ani7120094
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal health and hygiene
  2. Animal nutrition
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Cattle
  5. Denmark
  6. Mammals
  7. meat inspection
  8. open access
  9. Pigs
  1. open access