The safeguard of animal welfare represent both a responsibility and a challenge for farmers. Extensive farming systems seems guarantee high levels of animal welfare, fulfilling consumer ethical demands but anyway, it could exhibit critical points. So, the assessment of animal welfare at farm level is fundamental. Welfare checking systems can rely on either resource or animal-based criteria and must take into account objective, repeatable and easy measurable aspects. The aim of this study was to investigate on sheep welfare at farm level, in order to suggest managerial or structural corrections in the optic of animal welfare enhancement. The study involved 11 dairy sheep farms located in the district of Grosseto (Tuscany, Italy). A checklist was filled out during farm inspections by a trained observer and a farm welfare index was calculated according to scores assigned to five macro-areas: A: management, B: farming system, C: environment 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 score to each macroarea and a total farm score. Depending on the score, macroareas and the whole farm were evaluated according to five classes: 1 = scarce; 2 = sufficient; 3 = moderate; 4 = good; 5 = excellent. The study displays a situation characterized by an acceptable level of well-being, with none of holdings showing deficiencies that place them at the minimum level. In the 56% of the cases, the farms show a moderate level of welfare (level 3); the 27% of the sample is located at the level 2, while only the 18% of farms reached the higher score of welfare. The Macroarea A presented more deficiency (level 1), due to the insufficient attendance to technical courses, the poor level of mechanization and the lack of effective prevention of attacks by predator species (wolves, free ranging dogs). Macroarea E showed the best situation (level 5), thanks to the presence of a health plan in almost all farms, which can contributes to improve the health and health of animals. These results indicated that in this district some sectors of sheep farming need intervention aimed at increasing the level of animal welfare.

Preliminary study on animal welfare index in sheep farms in Grosseto district

C Russo
Primo
;
MN Benvenuti
Secondo
;
F Cecchi
Penultimo
;
L Giuliotti
Ultimo
2018

Abstract

The safeguard of animal welfare represent both a responsibility and a challenge for farmers. Extensive farming systems seems guarantee high levels of animal welfare, fulfilling consumer ethical demands but anyway, it could exhibit critical points. So, the assessment of animal welfare at farm level is fundamental. Welfare checking systems can rely on either resource or animal-based criteria and must take into account objective, repeatable and easy measurable aspects. The aim of this study was to investigate on sheep welfare at farm level, in order to suggest managerial or structural corrections in the optic of animal welfare enhancement. The study involved 11 dairy sheep farms located in the district of Grosseto (Tuscany, Italy). A checklist was filled out during farm inspections by a trained observer and a farm welfare index was calculated according to scores assigned to five macro-areas: A: management, B: farming system, C: environment 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 score to each macroarea and a total farm score. Depending on the score, macroareas and the whole farm were evaluated according to five classes: 1 = scarce; 2 = sufficient; 3 = moderate; 4 = good; 5 = excellent. The study displays a situation characterized by an acceptable level of well-being, with none of holdings showing deficiencies that place them at the minimum level. In the 56% of the cases, the farms show a moderate level of welfare (level 3); the 27% of the sample is located at the level 2, while only the 18% of farms reached the higher score of welfare. The Macroarea A presented more deficiency (level 1), due to the insufficient attendance to technical courses, the poor level of mechanization and the lack of effective prevention of attacks by predator species (wolves, free ranging dogs). Macroarea E showed the best situation (level 5), thanks to the presence of a health plan in almost all farms, which can contributes to improve the health and health of animals. These results indicated that in this district some sectors of sheep farming need intervention aimed at increasing the level of animal welfare.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11568/934846
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