Introduction - The EC Regulation 1698/2005 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development includes a specific measure for animal welfare payments. This measure requires the evaluation of the initial wellbeing condition of the participating farms. The Tuscany Region included the Measure 215 in its rural development program for the period 2007-2013, supporting 162 dairy sheep farms. This study aims at evaluating animal welfare on a sample of 42 dairy sheep farms. Materials and methods - Farm surveys were performed by a trained observer to collect information on farm management and to measure structure characteristics through a checklist submitted to farmers. A software has been developed in order to grade farms after processing data built upon objective and easily measurable parameters. The check-list embraced five focal macroarea: A. management; B. farming system; C. environmental control; D. feeding and water supply; E. hygiene, health and behavioural aspects. An Excel spreadsheet was created to input the data and automatically assign both a partial and a total score to each area; then areas as well as farms were evaluated according to five classes of increasing level of animal welfare. Descriptive analysis of the data was performed and non parametric Wilkoxon test was used to verify statistical differences in levels of welfare distribution. Results and discussion - The study displays a situation characterized by a satisfactory level of well-being, with only 10% of holdings showing deficiencies that place them at the minimum level. The Macroarea D presented more deficiency, due to the insufficient presence of water supply on pasture and the absence of at least two water drinker for group in the sheepfold. The Macroarea B showed the best situation, however some improvement related to milking procedures could be applied. No farm reached the highest rating, corresponding to an excellent condition. Conclusion - The survey also revealed farmer’s awareness of the importance of the issue, and his/her ability to use the Measure 215 as a tool for improving animal welfare.
|Autori:||Gastaldo, A.; Benvenuti, M.N.; Paganelli, O.; Rossi, P.; Giuliotti, L.|
|Titolo:||Animal welfare assessment in sheep farms before the application of the Measure 215 “Animal welfare payments” in Tuscany|
|Anno del prodotto:||2015|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|