- What are animal welfare indicators?
Indicators are the yardsticks that science uses to measure animal welfare. Like a jigsaw puzzle, each piece gives a small part of the picture. Together, they allow ‘quality of life’ to be assessed.
- Three domains for animal welfare assessment
The currently accepted construct is that welfare assessment should cover biological function, affective state and naturalness.
- Spotlight on body condition score
Body condition score (BCS) is an excellent example of an animal-based welfare indicator. It informs about the adequacy of feeding in recent months, thus addressing a key principle of animal welfare.
- BCS 5: optimum for profit, optimum for welfare
This study investigated the relationships between BCS, health and welfare when cows calved at differing levels of BCS.
- Keeping cows cool
Shade protects cows from solar radiation and is valuable in summer to improve welfare, with production gains around 0.5 L/cow/day in late lactation.
- Painful procedures and use of pain relief
Infrared thermography (IRT) was used to investigate best practice approaches for pain relief during husbandry procedures.
- The relationship between stock handlers and cows
Stock handlers influence husbandry practices on farm, through their choices and how they manage animals and their environment. It is often attitude towards the animals that is critical to success.
This issue covers the recent AgResearch and DairyNZ research programme which focused on science-based methods to evaluate livestock welfare.