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Assessment of sheep welfare using on-farm registrations and performance data

By S. M. Stubsjoen, L. Hektoen, P. S. Valle, A. M. Janczak, A. J. Zanella

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Farm animal welfare is a societal concern, and the need exists for scientific protocols to assess welfare. This paper describes the development of a protocol to assess the welfare of sheep (Ovis aries) and its application in 36 farms in Norway. There were two parts to the protocol; the animal- and resource-based measurements obtained during farm visits, and the analysis of production data. Data collection took place during visits to 36 farms in the lambing season (April-May) in 2007 (n=11) and 2008 (n=25). A fear test was conducted, and ewes were scored on a scale from 0 to 3. Forty-one percent of the ewes tested had a fear score of 3, indicating the lowest level of fear. Mean (+or-SD) fear score across farms were 1.9 (+or-0.5). Higher fearfulness was found to be associated with lower ewe body condition scores (BCS). Mean (+or-SD) BCS across farms was 2.6 (+or-0.6). A relatively large proportion of the ewes had a BCS of 2 (41%), which may be associated with an increased risk of nutritional stress, disease and low productivity. Eight farms had more than 5% (range 5.4-24.4

Date 2011
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 20
Issue 2
Pages 239-251
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Department of Production Animal Clinical Sciences, PO Box 8146 Dep, NO-0033 Oslo, Norway.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Analysis
  2. Animal anatomy
  3. Animal genetics
  4. Animal nutrition
  5. Animal physiology
  6. Animal rights
  7. Animal welfare
  8. Body condition
  9. Body mass
  10. Carcasses
  11. Conformation
  12. Data collection
  13. Developed countries
  14. Europe
  15. Fear
  16. Information
  17. Lambing
  18. Mammals
  19. Meat production
  20. Norway
  21. Nutrition
  22. OECD countries
  23. peer-reviewed
  24. performance recording
  25. performance traits
  26. productivity
  27. Scandinavia
  28. Sheep
  29. Wool producing animals
  1. peer-reviewed