Application of the WQ protocol® for assessing dairy cattle welfare on Flemish farms: identification of risk factors and predictors for welfare outcomes

Sophie de Graaf, Frank Tuyttens, Bart Ampe (Editor), Jo Bijttebier (Editor), Ludwig Lauwers (Editor), Wim Verbeke (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to conferencePublished abstractpeer-review


Purposes of on-farm animal welfare monitoring could be to give feed-back to farmers about (improving) the welfare status of their herd and to use the information in marketing strategies. Both purposes could be fulfilled more efficiently when using adequate knowledge of risk factors associated with specific and overall welfare outcomes. In this on-going project, the Welfare Quality® protocol is used to monitor dairy cattle welfare on Flemish farms. For each farm, we also collect data about husbandry and management conditions, farmer attitude towards his/her cattle herd, economic performance and routinely collected data. By examining associations between these datasets we aim to identify risk factors for specific welfare problems and predictors of overall welfare status. Risk factors would be particularly useful in advising farmers about potential actions to remedy possibly identified welfare problems. Predictors of overall welfare status could be used to prioritise monitoring resources to farms with an elevated risk for a low or high animal welfare status.
Up to present, we have conducted welfare assessments and collected additional data from 43 dairy farms in Flanders. Based on the Welfare Quality® integration method, the overall cattle welfare status was categorised as ‘acceptable’ for the majority of the farms (35/43). The remaining farms were classified as ‘enhanced’. Preliminary analyses revealed that the provisioning of deep litter is associated with an increased likelihood for enhanced instead of acceptable welfare status, due to a higher score for the principle ‘housing’. Further analysis on a larger sample size will be conducted in the near future.
Original languageDutch
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 11-Dec-2013
EventWelfare Quality Network Workshop - Lille, Lille, France
Duration: 11-Dec-201311-Dec-2013


WorkshopWelfare Quality Network Workshop

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