Pfeifer, M., Schmitt, A., Hessel, E. 2020. Animal welfare assessment of fattening pigs: A case study on sample validity. Animals 10(3), 389.
A guide for animal welfare assessment of fattening pigs recommends recording some of the indicators for a sample of the animals from a herd. However, it is not certain whether the herd’s level of welfare can be correctly judged using a random sample. Therefore, both the true prevalences of welfare indicators in a full census and the estimated prevalences of the indicators based upon simulated samples taken according to five strategies (termed S1 to S5) were determined. Deviations from the true level of animal welfare in the herd due to the sampling were recorded and analyzed. Depending on the strategy, between 12% and 43% of the samples over- or underestimated the true prevalences by more than 50%. The validity of the sampling strategies was evaluated using the normalized root-mean-squared error (NRMSE) and the relative bias (RB). In terms of accuracy, the strategies differed only slightly (between NRMSE = 0.13 for S2 and NRMSE = 0.19 for S4). However, the strategies varied more obviously regarding the bias (between RB = −0.0002 for S1 and RB = −0.0370 for S5). The described results are the outcome of an initial case study on the sample validity of the indicators and have to be verified using the data of more herds.