How Can We Assess Positive Welfare in Ruminants?

Until now, most research has focused on the development of indicators of negative welfare, and relatively few studies provide information on valid, reliable, and feasible indicators addressing positive aspects of animal welfare. However, a lack of suffering does not guarantee that animals are experiencing a positive welfare state. The aim of the present review is […]

A systematic review of the potential uses of on-animal sensors to monitor the welfare of sheep evaluated using the Five Domains Model as a framework

This systematic review explores the use of on-animal sensors in sheep and their potential application in objective welfare monitoring. The key questions posed were: To what extent can current scientific knowledge inform a sensor-based approach to welfare evaluations? And, how might this knowledge shape development of commercial monitoring systems? These questions were explored through retrospective […]

A Framework to Assess the Impact of New Animal Management Technologies on Welfare: A Case Study of Virtual Fencing

To be ethically acceptable, new husbandry technologies and livestock management systems must maintain or improve animal welfare. To achieve this goal, the design and implementation of new technologies need to harness and complement the learning abilities of animals. Here, from literature on the cognitive activation theory of stress (CATS) we develop a framework to assess […]

Farm Animal Cognition—Linking Behavior, Welfare and Ethics

Farm animal welfare is a major concern for society and food production. To more accurately evaluate animal farming in general and to avoid exposing farm animals to poor welfare situations, it is necessary to understand not only their behavioural but also their cognitive needs and capacities. Thus, general knowledge of how farm animals perceive and […]

Social personality in sheep: Can social strategies predict individual differences in cognitive abilities, morphology features, and reproductive success?

Social personality can be key factor in evolution because of intraindividual consistency, heritable basis, and linkage with fitness. The aim of this study was to identify the existence of sheep personality profiles based on the use of social strategies and its associations on morphological, cognitive, and reproductive success. Fifty adult ewes, housed indoor, were studied […]

The effects of land transport on animal welfare

Animal welfare during and as a result of transport can be assessed by using a range of behavioural, physiological, pathological and carcass-quality indicators that are described in this paper. Measures of the extent of any disease, injury or mortality resulting from, or exacerbated by, transport are important because health is an important part of welfare. […]

Behavioural and physiological assessment of positive and negative emotion in sheep

The assessment of emotional states in animals, particularly positive ones, remains a scientific challenge. We investigated differences in behavioural and physiological measures recorded in sheep, Ovis orientalis aries, during situations likely to coincide with negative, intermediate and positive emotional valence. Reactions of 15 sheep were observed during separation from group members (negative valence), standing in […]

Selection for easier managed sheep

Current alterations in the farm environment, such as a reduced number of farm workers, may mean that sheep genotypes that are highly dependent on man for nutritional and reproductive success will experience poorer welfare within that environment. In the past 30 years, average flock size has doubled, and flocks of over 1,000 ewes managed by […]

Genetic parameters for birth difficulty, lamb vigour and lamb sucking ability in Suffolk sheep

This study investigates the genetic basis of lamb vigour (defined as neonatal lamb activity and sucking ability) and lambing difficulty as potential traits to be included in selection programmes to improve ewe and lamb welfare. Scores for lamb birth difficulty, vigour and sucking ability were collected shortly after birth on 1,520 lambs born in 2006 […]

Ear and tail postures as indicators of emotional valence in sheep

To date, most studies on animal emotions have focused on the assessment of negative emotional states, and there is a lack of approaches to characterising positive emotional states. The aim of this investigation was to measure differences in ear and tail postures in sheep exposed to situations likely to induce states of negative, intermediate and […]