Leliveld, L. M. C., Provolo, G. 2020. A review of welfare indicators of indoor-housed dairy cow as a basis for integrated automatic welfare assessment systems. Animals 10(8), 1430.
For on-farm welfare assessment many automatic methods have been developed to detect indicators of reduced welfare. However, there is still a need to integrate data from single sources to obtain a complete picture of the welfare of an animal. This review offers a basis for developing integrated automatic systems to assess dairy cow welfare by providing an overview of the main issues that challenge cow welfare (e.g., lameness) and of well-established indicators that could detect these issues on the farm. Based on a literature review of 4 reviews on cow welfare in general and 48 reviews on single welfare issues, we identified 18 different major welfare issues and 76 matching indicators that could be detected automatically on the farm. Several indicators, e.g., feed intake, showed a consistent association with welfare across many different issues. Although some of these indicators are discussed critically, this means there are many indicators that potentially could detect reduced welfare in general. Other types of indicators could detect one specific welfare issue, e.g., increased respiratory rate for heat stress. These different types of indicators combined provide a basis to develop integrated automatic systems that ultimately would help farmers to detect welfare problems at an early stage.