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Review ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Vet. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fvets.2019.00289

An appraisal of methods for measuring welfare of grazing ruminants

  • 1Lincoln University, New Zealand
  • 2Department of Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Lincoln University, New Zealand

Although disturbances in body function of animals can be measured to determine whether a state of stress may exist, there is growing interest in finding ways to assess their emotional status as an indicator of good or bad welfare status. Generally it is easier to determine poor states of well-being than positive ones. For grazing ruminants some indicators of well-being include absence of illness, good growth and productivity, and longevity. Motion detectors can provide automated remote monitoring of behaviour and it is likely that there will be advances in the interpretation software to increase the utility of this technology for assessing well-being. Cortisol levels in body fluids, faeces and pelage are prominent as a marker of poor animal welfare, but like many of the other objective measures that are used, are not wholly reliable at the individual animal level. These other measures include: plasma serotonin, heart rate variation, infra-red thermography, cytokines, salivary alpha amylase, and acute phase proteins. Use of automated facial expression recognition may supplement electrophysiological recording as means to quantify the pain experience of animals. Although the measures described in the literature do not necessarily provide the final answer for determination of welfare in grazing ruminants, they all have some merit and deserve further investigation.

Keywords: Animal Welfare, anaiml behavior, Pain, HPA axis, Ruminants

Received: 23 May 2019; Accepted: 14 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Barrell. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Graham K. Barrell, Lincoln University, Lincoln, New Zealand, graham.barrell@lincoln.ac.nz