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Should the Contribution of One Additional Lame Cow Depend on How Many Other Cows on the Farm Are Lame?

By Peter Sandoe, Bjorn Forkman, Franziska Hakansson, Sine Norlander Andreasen, Rikke Nohr, Matt Denwood, Thomas Boker Lund

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Welfare Quality® proposes a system for aggregation according to which the total welfare score for a group of animals is a non-linear effect of the prevalence of welfare scores across the individuals within the group. Three assumptions serve to justify this: (1) experts do not follow a linear reasoning when they assess a welfare problem; (2) it serves to prevent compensation (severe welfare problems hidden by scoring well on other aspects of welfare); (3) experts agree on the weight of different welfare measures. We use two sources of data to examine these assumptions: animal welfare data from 44 Danish dairy farms with Danish Holstein Friesian cows, and data from a questionnaire study with a convenience sample of 307 experts in animal welfare, of which we received responses from over 50%. Our main results were: (1) the total group-level welfare score as assigned by experts is a non-linear function of the individual animal welfare states within the group; (2) the WQ system does not prevent what experts perceive as unacceptable compensation; (3) the level of agreement among experts appears to vary across measures. Our findings give rise to concerns about the proposed aggregation system offered by WQ


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/ani7120096
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggregation
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Assessment
  4. Cattle
  5. Mammals
  6. welfare