Hair coat condition: A valid and reliable indicator for on-farm welfare assessment in adult dairy goats

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Monica Battini, Tanja Peric, Inês Ajuda, Ana Vieira, Lilia Grosso, Sara Barbieri, George Stilwell, Alberto Prandi, Antonella Comin, Franco Tubaro, Silvana Mattiello
Small Ruminant Research
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The aim of this study is to gather information about the possibility of including the hair coat condition as an animal-based indicator in an on-farm welfare assessment protocol for adult dairy goats. Validity was tested in two repetitions performed in Portugal and Italy, in order to increase the sample size. Two homogeneous groups of 24 adult dairy goats with rough hair coat (RH: matted, rough or scurfy hair) and 24 goats with normal hair coat (NH: shiny and sheen hair, homogeneous and well adherent to the body) were subjected to general clinical examination, evaluation of body condition, collection of hair, faecal samples and skin scraping. RH goats showed a significantly poorer body condition compared to NH goats, with a higher percentage of very thin goats by sternum area palpation (P < 0.01) and by lumbar area palpation (P < 0.001). Moreover, RH goats also showed mineral deficiencies or surplus that may lead to a consistent loss of weight (Mg, Fe: P < 0.001; K, Ca, Al, Ti, Na: P < 0.01). RH goats showed a higher prevalence of abnormal lung sounds compared to NH goats (P < 0.001). Inter-observer reliability was tested in 10 farms in Portugal and 10 farms in Italy by two assessors per country demonstrating that hair coat assessment is highly reliable (ρ = 0.901; P < 0.001). Results show that hair coat condition is a valid and reliable indicator of goat welfare to be included in on-farm welfare assessment protocols.


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