Comfort during resting, half-closed eyes when feeding high palatable feed or vigorous tail wagging when using a brush are some of the positive indicators that can be used to evaluate the quality of the environment where ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats and buffaloes) are farmed. This is a radical shift from the past as until now the welfare assessment on farm meant assessing negative indicators, namely number of lame animals, presence of lesions or frequency of agonistic behaviours. However, the latest research confirms that the absence of a problem or of suffering does not necessarily imply that the animals are experiencing a good life and that their level of welfare is high. To guarantee high welfare standards, animals should experience positive conditions that allow them to live a “life worth living”, and positive indicators are needed to register these conditions. In collaboration with researchers from the University of Naples, the University of Basilicata and the Scottish Rural College (Edinburgh, UK), Prof Mattiello and Dr Battini (DiSAA) reviewed the existing literature and found out the most promising and feasible indicators to be used on-farm. This is a step towards the development of welfare assessment protocols that include positive indicators for better evaluating the quality of life of farmed ruminants.

REFERENCE : Mattiello S., Battini M., De Rosa G., Napolitano F., Dwyer C. (2019) How can we assess positive welfare in ruminants? Animals, 9, 758; doi: 10.3390/ani9100758.

POSSIBLE NOTES : https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/9/10/758