Battini, M., Barbieri, S., Vieira, A. et al. 2018. The use of qualitative behaviour assessment for the on-farm welfare assessment of dairy goats. Animals 8(7), 123.
This research investigated whether using qualitative behaviour assessment (QBA) with a fixed list of descriptors may be related to quantitative animal- (ABM) and resource-based (RBM) measures included in the AWIN (Animal Welfare Indicators) welfare assessment prototype protocol for goats, tested in 60 farms. A principal component analysis (PCA) was conducted on QBA descriptors; then PCs were correlated to some ABMs and RBMs. Subsequently, a combined PCA merged QBA scores, ABMs and RBMs. The study confirms that QBA can identify the differences in goats’ emotions, but only few significant correlations were found with ABMs and RBMs. In addition, the combined PCA revealed that goats with a normal hair coat were scored as more relaxed and sociable. A high farm workload was related to bored and suffering goats, probably because farmers that can devote less time to animals may fail to recognise important signals from them. Goats were scored as sociable, but also alert, in response to the presence of an outdoor run, probably because when outdoors they received more stimuli than indoors and were more attentive to the surroundings. Notwithstanding these results, the holistic approach of QBA may allow to register animals’ welfare from a different perspective and be complementary to other measures.