Menchetti, L., Zappaterra, M., Costa, L. N. et al. 2021. Application of a protocol to assess camel welfare: Scoring system of collected measures, aggregated assessment indices, and criteria to classify a pen. Animals 11(2), 494.

This study aimed to apply a protocol for assessing camel welfare, to develop a scoring system for the welfare measures, to produce overall assessment indices, and to classify the animal units (i.e., pens) according to their welfare level. A total of 105 measures were collected at Herd level from 76 pens at a market in Qatar. The pens held 528 camels, 132 of which were evaluated at a deeper level (i.e., Animal level). Out of the 105 measures, 71 were selected, scored, and aggregated to reach a Total Welfare Index (TWI) for each pen. The TWI ranged from 46.2 to 69.8. The Good Feeding index, including measures related to prolonged thirst and prolonged hunger, was the most critical (p < 0.001), while the Good Health index, including measures related to the absence of injuries, disease and pain, was the less problematic (p < 0.001). However, most of the pens were classified as “unsatisfactory” (61.8%) and none as “excellent”. Body Condition Score (BCS), Thirst Index, disease and physical injuries, presence of a shelter, and cleanliness of bedding were the measures which influenced the pens’ classification the most (p < 0.05). The proposed model seems useful in the identification of camel welfare issues. Further applications, as well as the involvement of many scientists and stakeholders, are needed to refine and validate the protocol and its indices.