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Interpretive Summary: Measuring welfare in rearing piglets: test–retest reliability of selected animal-based indicators

By: Johanna Witt, Joachim Krieter, Thore Wilder, Irena Czycholl

The present study tested selected animal welfare indicators from different welfare assessment protocols, such as the Welfare Quality protocol (WQP) for pigs, with regard to test–retest reliability (TRR), consistency over time, in an on-farm study on rearing pigs. The WQP is based on the four welfare principles: 1) “good feeding”, 2) “good housing”, 3) “good health”, and 4) “appropriate behavior”, which are assessed by different welfare indicators. Some of those selected WQP-indicators were not observed at all or only very rarely in the present study. “Sneezing” and the “behavioral observations” were of sufficient TRR, however, “hernias” were not. In contrast, “back posture”, “ear lesions”, “normal behavior”, and “tail posture”, which originate from other sources than the WQP and therefore have not yet been included in the WQP, achieved good or acceptable results in terms of TRR. These should be included in the WQP to cover the four principles more comprehensively. Without the inclusion of new indicators, the principles “good feeding”, “good housing”, and partly “good health” could not be adequately assessed in the rearing period.

Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.