Conference proceedings article
Indicators for on-farm self-monitoring of animal welfare – a proposal for implementation in cattle

Publication Details
Brinkmann, J.; Ivemeyer, S.; Pelzer, A.; Winckler, C.; Zapf, R.
De Jong, Ingrid C.; Koene, Paul
Wageningen Academic Publishers
Publication year:
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Indicators for on-farm self-monitoring of animal welfare – a proposal for implementation in cattle
Book title:
Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on the Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group level


Since 2014 the German Animal Welfare Act
requires livestock keepers to monitor appropriate animal-based
indicators in order to safeguard that the animals are kept and cared
according to their needs. However, no detailed provisions regarding
content, scope and implementation of the self-monitoring have been
given. For self-monitoring of cattle welfare, in a first step 16 experts
selected robust and feasible indicators which address the most
important animal welfare problems in cattle. In a second step, detailed
protocols for the implementation of self-monitoring in cattle farms were
elaborated by a smaller expert group. Indicators consider already
existing data (e.g. milk recording, cattle database) or should be
assessed on-farm in defined intervals. The following sets of indicators
have been recommended. Dairy cattle: productive life span, somatic cell
count (alternatively: mastitis treatment incidence), milk fat-protein
ratio, body condition, lameness, integument alterations, cleanliness,
claw condition, animal losses, dystocia incidence, adequate use of lying
places, rising behaviour, avoidance distance, water availability. Beef
cattle: integument alterations (including tail tip alterations),
lameness, body condition, cleanliness, claw condition, nasal discharge,
animal losses, tongue rolling, space allowance, water availability.
Calves: body condition, cleanliness, animal losses, treatment incidences
of enteric and respiratory diseases, complications after dehorning,
inter-sucking, nesting score. For each of these measures clear
definitions, suggestions for sample sizes and, if applicable,
illustrations are given and a recording schedule is proposed. In a
recently started project, the self-monitoring of welfare will be
implemented and subsequently evaluated. This will also address the type
and extent of farmer training regarding reliable application of the
monitoring protocols as well as an assessment framework regarding the
welfare outcomes (target & threshold values, benchmarking).


Last updated on 2019-25-07 at 14:55