Minnig, A., Zufferey, R., Thomann, B. et al. 2021. Animal-based indicators for on-farm welfare assessment in goats. Animals 11(11), 3138.

This review describes the current state of knowledge relating to scientific literature on welfare indicators for goats. Our aim was to provide an overview of animal-based indicators for on-farm welfare assessments. We performed a literature search and extracted 96 relevant articles by title, abstract, and full-text screening. Out of these articles, similar indicators were aggregated to result in a total of 32 welfare indicators, some of which were covered in multiple articles, others in only a single one. We discuss a set of three established assessment protocols containing these indicators, as well as all individual indicators which were covered in more than one article. As single indicators, we identified lameness, body condition score (BCS), qualitative behaviour assessment (QBA), and human–animal relationship (HAR) tests with substantial evidence for sufficient validity to assess welfare in goats. A multitude of indicators (e.g., hair coat condition) was studied less intensively but was successfully used for welfare assessments. For some indicators (e.g., oblivion, lying behaviour), we highlight the need for future research to further validate them or to optimise their use in on-farm welfare assessments. Moreover, further investigations need to include kids, bucks, and meat and fibre goats, as well as extensively kept goats as the literature predominantly focuses on dairy goats in intensive production systems.

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