Animal-based measures to assess the welfare of dairy cows and pigs are effective and should be used wherever possible, according to recent scientific advice from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Recommendations of EFSA’s Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) are presented alongside a ‘toolbox’ from which scientists, veterinarians and farmers can select the appropriate animal-based measures for carrying out a welfare assessment of dairy cows or pigs.
The two opinions on dairy cows and pigs are the first in a series of work on animal-based measures that will ultimately cover all farm species. The opinions support the implementation of the recently adopted EU Animal Welfare Strategy 2012-2015.
The use of animal-based measures to assess animal welfare is relatively new. Legislation related to the protection of animals usually focuses on the assessment of different factors that can impact on welfare rather than on the animal’s response to these factors.
Some of the responses of an animal to features of its environment have little impact on its welfare.
However, sometimes the response is of such magnitude that it indicates that the animal has difficulty coping, or did not cope, and its welfare is poor as a consequence. Sometimes these responses are the outcome of minor responses during a period of many days, weeks or months, and hence the terms ‘welfare outcome indicator’, or simply ‘outcomes’, are used in animal welfare science. The scientific report and Opinions on pig welfare focussed on identifying the hazards that led to these negative welfare outcomes and then making recommendations to reduce or eliminate them. The Welfare Quality® project, on the other hand, focused on measuring the magnitude of the outcomes, facilitating an assessment of pig welfare irrespective of the housing system and management.
Wednesday January 25, 2012/ EFSA/ European Union.