Animal Welfare Indicators

To be able to measure animal welfare objectively, we need indicators that are valid, reliable and feasible in the actual situation they are to be used. Taken together, the indicators should cover the main approaches to animal welfare, i.e. physical health and function; mental state; and natural living.

The development and validation of animal welfare indicators is an important task for the group. To do this, detailed knowledge on the biology of the species and the life stage(s) in question and production systems is necessary.  Further, we can combine indicators tailored to the situation the welfare assessment is to be done, e.g. on farm, at pasture or at an abattoir.

Qualitative Behaviour Assessment (QBA) is a new tool to quantify qualitative, subjective observations, and QBA is one of few methods which can measure positive affective states in animals. We have used this method in calves, sheep, chicken and dogs, and even in stock-persons.

For fish farming, we are part of a consortium which analysed and categorized welfare indicators to be used for salmon and rainbow trout. There are ongoing projects detailing practical use of such indicators in salmon farming.