Assessment of animal welfare in dairy cattle farming - Evaluation of the Welfare Quality (R) Protocol
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This article deals with the evaluation of the Welfare Quality (R) Protocol for cattle, a newly developed assessment system to assess the animal welfare at farm level. In this study 20 dairy farms in Lower Saxony were evaluated by two independent assessors applying the Welfare Quality (R) Protocol. Data were analyzed regarding the validity, reliability and feasibility of the standardized evaluation system. It was demonstrated that the Welfare Quality (R) Protocol for cattle provides a good basis to identify risk factors between farms and differentiate housing systems in respect of the animal welfare. However, the level of reliability and feasibility was not satisfying for all the different indicators. By modifying single indicators and the establishment of a profound education of assessors it will be possible to successfully implement the Welfare Quality (R) concept as a standardized assessment system in Europe. However, a reduction of the substantial labour costs is required as a first step.
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