Animal Welfare Assessment

High quality Control Posts

Animal welfare assessment

In order to evaluate the welfare change, due to the renovation of the control posts, two animal welfare assessment protocols have been developed within the project, which have been used in practice to evaluate the welfare of animals at unloading, during the resting time in the control post and at uploading when the animals were leaving again.

The assessments of animals have been carried out before the renovation took place and after the renovation activities were completed in order to compare the ex-ante with the ex-post condition. Researchers and veterinarians have been trained in the use of both protocols before carrying out the assessments, which required the translation of the protocols and the training material in English, French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish.

There have been a series of improvements carried out in all control posts, which were specifically directed to improve the welfare of the animals during their stay in the control post such as:

  • The improvement of the ramps used for unloading and uploading of the animals on the trucks;
  • The increase of the number and quality of the drinking bowls and feed troughs in the single pens of the stables;
  • The insulation of the roofs of the stables against very hot and cold weather conditions;
  • The improvement of existing and the installation of new ventilation systems;
  • Installation of mobile gates in order to separate groups of animals.

For three welfare principles (good housing, health and appropriate behaviour) the assessments of cattle showed the following results:

  • At unloading and uploading after renovation there is a significant reduction of the percentage of cattle slipping, falling down, presenting lameness problems and vocalising;
  • In the renovated resting pens cattle clearly showed less agonistic behaviour than in the old non renovated pens;
  • The percentage of cattle which are lying down in the pen after 1 hours after unloading is higher after renovation than before renovation;
  • In line with the previous observation the percentage of animals standing in the pens is much lower after renovation than before;
  • Although the percentage of animals presenting health problems is low, because they need to be fit for travelling, the animal health parameters, such as hampered respiration, nasal and ocular discharge and coughing, all have improved after renovation of the stables;
  • The dirtiness of cattle in the renovated pens is lower than in the old pens.

These results clearly show that the renovation of the control posts has contributed to improve the welfare of cattle. The better internal climatic conditions due to the better ventilation equipment and the insulation of the roofs, the higher and better availability of drinking bowls and feed troughs and the improvement of the loading ramps all have been important interventions to achieve these results.

The assessments of pigs show the following results:

  • The percentage of pigs vocalising decreases after renovation, which can be attributed to unloading and loading facilities, but also to the better handling of the pigs;
  • Positive social behaviour of pigs is more frequent in the renovated pens than in the old pens;
  • After renovation the thermal comfort of pigs was remarkably better than before renovation.

In summary, the renovation activities carried out in the project specifically focused on the improvement of animal welfare have a significant positive impact on the welfare of the animals (D 2.2 and D 2.3).

A detailed article about main results of new protocols is available in the Newsletter N. 1 of the "Development of EU wide animal transport certification system and renovation of control posts in the European Union".

Photos of the process:

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