Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-xfwgj Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-20T03:42:14.287Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Application of the Welfare Quality® assessment system on European beef bull farms

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 April 2014

M. K. Kirchner*
Affiliation:
Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, Division of Livestock Sciences, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Gregor-Mendel-Strasse 33, A–1180 Vienna, Austria
H. Schulze Westerath
Affiliation:
Farm Animal Behaviour and Husbandry Section, University of Kassel/Witzenhausen, Nordbahnhofstr. 1a, D-37213 Witzenhausen, Germany
U. Knierim
Affiliation:
Farm Animal Behaviour and Husbandry Section, University of Kassel/Witzenhausen, Nordbahnhofstr. 1a, D-37213 Witzenhausen, Germany
E. Tessitore
Affiliation:
Department of Animal Medicine, Production and Health, University of Padova, Agripolis - Viale dell'Università 16, I-35020 Legnaro (PD), Italy
G. Cozzi
Affiliation:
Department of Animal Medicine, Production and Health, University of Padova, Agripolis - Viale dell'Università 16, I-35020 Legnaro (PD), Italy
C. Pfeiffer
Affiliation:
Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, Division of Livestock Sciences, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Gregor-Mendel-Strasse 33, A–1180 Vienna, Austria
C. Winckler
Affiliation:
Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, Division of Livestock Sciences, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Gregor-Mendel-Strasse 33, A–1180 Vienna, Austria
Get access

Abstract

Welfare concerns for intensive beef production have often been raised, but on-farm welfare assessment studies are rare. The aim of this study was to apply the Welfare Quality® (WQ) welfare assessment system for fattening cattle on beef bull farms to evaluate the state of welfare at the level of WQ measures and of aggregated scores, as well as overall classification. In addition, the purpose was to evaluate two ways of providing feedback information to the farmers with regard to possible welfare improvements on the farms. The study was conducted in Austria, Germany and Italy on a total of 63 beef bull farms with deep litter or cubicle-housing systems. Assessments were carried out 3 times (1 month and 7 months apart from the initial visit). In every country, farmers were assigned to two treatment groups (feedback from initial visit as written report, F, written feedback plus oral advice, FA) and a control group (C), which did not receive any feedback. At the criterion level, the highest average welfare scores were obtained from ‘Absence of prolonged hunger’ (94/100 points) followed by ‘Absence of pain induced by management procedures’ (88/100) and ‘Comfort around resting’ (77/100). Most welfare concerns related to the criteria ‘Absence of disease’ (40/100), ‘Expression of social behaviour’ (44/100) and ‘Positive emotional state’ (48/100), thus indicating room for improvements. Two-thirds of the farms achieved the ‘Enhanced’ level, about one-third was judged ‘Acceptable’ and only one farm ‘Excellent’. After 6 months of monitoring period, there was no significant welfare improvement in both the treatment groups as compared with the control group. Reasons for the lack of effect may mainly be seen in the short monitoring period and a lack of external incentives. In conclusion, the WQ assessment system revealed areas for improvement, but longer term studies and investigations on alternative ways of transferring outcomes from on-farm welfare assessments to farmers should be carried out in future.

Type
Full Paper
Copyright
© The Animal Consortium 2014 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Absmanner, E, Rouha-Mülleder, C, Scharl, T, Leisch, F and Troxler, J 2009. Effects of different housing systems on the behaviour of beef bulls – an on-farm assessment on Austrian farms. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 118, 1219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bartussek, H, Tritthardt, M, Würzl, H and Zortea, W 1996. Rinderstallbau. Leopold Stocker Verlag Graz, Stuttgart, Germany.Google Scholar
Bell, NJ, Bell, MJ, Knowles, TG, Whay, HR, Main, DJ and Webster, AJ 2009. The development, implementation and testing of a lameness control programme based on HACCP principles and designed for heifers on dairy farms. Veterinary Journal 180, 178188.Google Scholar
Blokhuis, HJ 2008. International cooperation in animal welfare: the Welfare Quality® project. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 50, S10.Google Scholar
Bock, BB and van Huik, MM 2007. Animal welfare: the attitudes and behaviour of European pig farmers. British Food Journal 109, 931944.Google Scholar
Botreau, R, Bracke, MB, Perny, P, Butterworth, A, Capdeville, J, Van Reenen, CG and Veissier, I 2007. Aggregation of measures to produce an overall assessment of animal welfare. Part 2: analysis of constraints. Animal 1, 11881197.Google Scholar
Brörkens, N, Plesch, G, Laister, S, Zucca, D, Winckler, C, Minero, M and Knierim, U 2009. Reliability testing concerning behaviour around resting in cattle in dairy cows and beef bulls. In Welfare Quality reports No. 11 (ed. B Forkman and LJ Keeling), pp. 723. Welfare Quality Consortium, Lelystad, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
Council of Europe 1988. Standing Committee of the Convention on the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes. Recommendation concerning cattle, adopted by the Standing Committee on 21 October. Retrieved January 20, 2014, from http://www.coe.int/t/e/legal_affairs/legal_co-operation/biological_safety_and_use_of_animals/farming/Rec%20cattle%20E.asp#TopOfPage Google Scholar
European Commission 2007. Council regulation No 834/2007 of 28 June 2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing regulation (EEC) No 2092/91. Official Journal of the European Communities L 189 (1), 123.Google Scholar
European Commission 2008. Commission regulation No 889/2008 of 5 September 2008, laying down detailed rules for the implementation of council regulation (EC) No 834/2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products with regard to organic production, labelling and control. Official Journal of the European Communities L 250 (1), 184.Google Scholar
Gottardo, F, Ricci, R, Preciso, S, Ravarotto, L and Council, G 2004. Effect of the manger space on welfare and meat quality of beef cattle. Livestock Production Science 89, 277285.Google Scholar
Gottardo, F, Brscic, M, Contiero, B, Cozzi, G and Andrighetto, I 2009. Towards the creation of a welfare assessment system in intensive beef cattle farms. Italian Journal of Animal Science 8, 325342.Google Scholar
Gratzer, ET 2011. Animal health and welfare planning in Austrian organic dairy farming. University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna.Google Scholar
Gupta, S, Earley, B and Crowe, MA 2007. Pituitary, adrenal, immune and performance responses of mature Holstein × Friesian bulls housed on slatted floors at various space allowances. Veterinary Journal 173, 594604.Google Scholar
Ivemeyer, S, Walkenhorst, M, Heil, F, Notz, C, Maeschli, A, Butler, G and Klocke, P 2009. Management factors affecting udder health and effects of a one year extension program in organic dairy herds. Animal 3, 15961604.Google Scholar
Kirchner, MK, Schulze Westerath-Niklaus, H, Knierim, U, Tessitore, E, Cozzi, G, Vogl, C and Winckler, C 2014. Attitudes and expectations of beef farmers in Austria, Germany and Italy towards the Welfare Quality® assessment system. Livestock Science 160, 102112.Google Scholar
Knierim, U and Winckler, C 2009. On-farm welfare assessment in cattle: validity, reliability and feasibility issues and future perspectives with special regard to the Welfare Quality® approach. Animal Welfare 18, 451458.Google Scholar
Laister, S, Brörkens, N, Lolli, S, Zucca, D, Knierim, U, Minero, M, Canali, E and Winckler, C 2009. Reliability of measures of agonistic behaviour in dairy and beef cattle. In Welfare Quality reports No. 11 (ed. B Forkman and LJ Keeling), pp. 95112. Welfare Quality Consortium, Lelystad, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
Mounier, L, Veissier, I, Andanson, S, Delval, E and Boissy, A 2006. Mixing at the beginning of fattening moderates social buffering in beef bulls. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 96, 185200.Google Scholar
Munksgaard, L, Ingvartsen, KL, Pedersen, LJ and Nielsen, VKM 1999. Deprivation of lying down affects behaviour and pituitary-adrenal axis responses in young bulls. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section A – Animal Science 49, 172178.Google Scholar
Platz, S, Ahrens, F, Bahrs, E, Nuske, S and Erhard, MH 2007. Association between floor type and behaviour, skin lesions, and claw dimensions in group-housed fattening bulls. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 80, 209221.Google Scholar
R Development Core Team 2009. R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. Retrieved from http://www.R-project.org Google Scholar
Schulze Westerath, H, Gygax, L, Mayer, C and Wechsler, B 2007. Leg lesions and cleanliness of finishing bulls kept in housing systems with different lying area surfaces. Veterinary Journal 174, 7785.Google Scholar
Schulze Westerath, H, Brörkens, N, Laister, S, MacKintosh, N, Winckler, C and Knierim, U 2009a. Reliability of measures of socio-positive and play behaviour in dairy and beef cattle. In Welfare Quality reports No. 11 (ed. B Forkman and LJ Keeling), pp. 175188. Welfare Quality Consortium, Lelystad, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
Schulze Westerath, H, Kirchner, M, Tessitore, E, Cozzi, G, Winckler, C and Knierim, U 2009b. Is agonistic behaviour in beef bulls affected by housing conditions? In Joint East Central and West Central Europe ISAE regional meeting (ed. C Winckler), 15pp. University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria.Google Scholar
Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (SCAHAW) 2001. The welfare of cattle kept for beef production. In Report No. SANCO.C.2/AH/R22/2000. European Commission, Brussels, Belgium. Retrieved January 20, 2014, from http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/sc/scah/out54_en.pdf.Google Scholar
Stöber, M 2002. Infektionsbedingte Krankheiten von Bronchen und Lunge – Enzootische Bronchopneumonie. In Innere Medizin und Chirurgie des Rindes (ed. G Dirksen, H-D Gründer and M Stöber), pp. 310316. Parey, Blackwell, Berlin, Germany.Google Scholar
Tessitore, E, Boukha, A, Guzzo, L and Cozzi, G 2009. Effects of pen floor on clinical and behavioural parameters of newly received beef cattle fattened under intensive rearing systems. Italian Journal of Animal Science 8, 190192.Google Scholar
Tierschutzgesetz (TSchG), Bundesgesetz über den Schutz der Tiere (National law on the protection of animals) 2004. BGBl. I Nr.118/2004, Vienna, Austria. Retrieved January 20, 2014, from www.ris.bka.gv.at Google Scholar
Wechsler, B 2011. Floor quality and space allowance in intensive beef production: a review. Animal Welfare 20, 497503.Google Scholar
Welfare Quality® (WQ) 2009. Welfare Quality® assessment protocol for cattle. Welfare Quality® Consortium Lelystad, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
Welfare Quality® (WQ) 2012. Welfare Quality® assessment protocol for cattle without veal calves. Welfare Quality® Consortium, Lelystad, The Netherlands. Retrieved February 5, 2014, from http://www.welfarequalitynetwork.net Google Scholar
Windschnurer, I, Boivin, X and Waiblinger, S 2009. Reliability of an avoidance distance test for the assessment of animals’ responsiveness to humans and a preliminary investigation of its association with farmers’ attitudes on bull fattening farms. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 117, 117127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Supplementary material: File

Kirchner supplementary material

Kirchner supplementary material

Download Kirchner supplementary material(File)
File 119.1 KB