Development of practical methodology and indicators for on-farm animal welfare assessment
Marchewka, Joanna Aleksandra
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Work described in the doctoral thesis entitled ¿Development of practical methodology and indicators for on-farm animal welfare assessment¿ was conducted within the frame of Work Package 1 of the AWIN project by Joanna Marchewka. The research project aimed to optimize strategies for welfare assessment including pain in turkeys and sheep. Due to scarce knowledge on turkeys¿ welfare and lack of methodology for its evaluation, the first part of work concentrated on the development of a new practical and dynamic protocol for on-farm welfare assessment of turkeys, adjusted to the particularities of large groups in which they are housed. The novel protocol approach based on transect walks, that included the evaluation of the main welfare issues commonly observed in meat poultry, was primarily validated on broilers as a model species. This first approach was used due to the possibility of comparing obtained by transect walks outcomes with results from referenced method based on individual sampling. In order to integrate most relevant behavioral indicators into the developed turkey specific protocol, literature review on this issue was accomplished. The transect-based protocol including welfare and selected behavioral indicators for turkey on-farm welfare assessment was designed and validated for its sensitivity as well as inter observer reliability, providing novel tool for efficient and practical on-farm meat poultry assessment. Second part of the thesis aimed at developing animal based behavioral pain indicators for sheep. Those indicators were not defined, prior to the work conducted within this thesis, for the individual lambs separated from their flock mates. Sheep, as other prey species has developed throughout the evolution process effective mechanisms to avoid showing evident signs of pain. This might in practical framing conditions refer to animals brought individually to a vet's surgery area and which could reduce visible behavioral indicators of pain. Results of the conducted experiment found that tail docking-related pain is a factor modifying reactions of lambs to isolation, which should be considered as a proof of negative effects on the welfare caused by the common husbandry procedures, as tail docking especially performed without pain relief measures. Outcomes of this work will be integrated into sheep welfare assessment protocols currently being developed within AWIN project, as well as disseminated into everyday on-farm practice.