The project will focus on the most relevant potential welfare issues for all studied small ruminant systems at all levels of the farm production chain. A prioritised list of welfare issues identified to be critically important to consumers and end-users of sheep and goat products, and that ensure environmental, ethical, economic and social sustainability has been determined through interactions with stakeholders in each country. Indicators for these prioritized welfare issues have been developed, which are being used in TechCare to measure the potential of existing, novel or adapted PLF tools, to assess and manage these welfare conditions.
To assess welfare we have developed descriptions of animal-based measures and their definition as used in the studies by TechCare. These are NOT intended to be comprehensive protocols for assessing overall welfare of small ruminants, but are individual measures of different welfare issues as identified by the TechCare stakeholders as the most important issues for their industry.
As far as possible, these are validated indicators drawn from a number of different studies (particularly the Animal Welfare Indicators (AWIN) project, national projects), which were considered the best methods to measure each issue by the TechCare WP2 team.
Indicators are described in two ways: firstly for measures that can be taken in the field in undisturbed animals (typically extensively managed animals where it would not be feasible for desirable to need to handle the animals frequently) and secondly for those that can be made at close quarters, likely with some handling required (e.g. restraint).
Indicators are measured at the level of the individual animal. This is required to allow validation of the sensor measures (which are recorded at the animal level). Thus, each animal must be identifiable at close quarters and at a distance if the field measures are to be used.
TechCare welfare-related studies:
- TechCare Meat Sheep Welfare Assessment Measures – DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.8091402
- TechCare Lamb Welfare Assessment Measures – DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.8091304
- TechCare Dairy Sheep Welfare Assessment Measures – DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.8091296
- TechCare Dairy Goats Welfare Assessment Measures – DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.8091258