Ryan, M., Waters, R., Wolfensohn, S. 2021. Assessment of the welfare of experimental cattle and pigs using the animal welfare assessment grid. Animals 11(4), 999.
The Animal Welfare Assessment Grid (AWAG) is a method for assessing quality of life, originally designed for experimental primates. This study adapts the AWAG for use in cattle and pigs, by adapting the factors included for these species and including data which had been collected previously as the standard approach to monitoring these species in research. The intention is that the results presented here will allow the future data collected for experimental cattle and pigs to be optimised for inclusion in an AWAG. Data were collected from two vaccine assessment studies at the Pirbright Institute. Factors were scored for every recorded event using retrospective data and CCTV clips. There was a lack of behavioural data recorded in both studies, which limited the accuracy of assessing each animal’s welfare. This paper emphasises the importance of including behavioural information when assessing welfare and not simply relying on assessment of physical condition. Scores peaked following an exponential rise as animals reached set humane end points. This demonstrated the potential of using the AWAG to aid the decision-making of when euthanasia should be performed. Our study shows the AWAG to be a useful tool for assessing welfare, which can be used in harm:benefit assessment.