Journal of Animal Behaviour and Biometeorology
Journal of Animal Behaviour and Biometeorology
Research Article Open Access

Study on the major welfare problems of dairy cows from the Galicia region (NW Spain)

Ana Bugueiro, José Pedreira, Francisco Javier Diéguez

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The aim of the present paper was to evaluate the dairy cattle welfare in a population from the Galicia region (NW Spain) according to the Welfare Quality® protocol guidelines. For this purpose, 37 dairy farms were randomly selected. The on-farm welfare was evaluated according to Welfare Quality® guidelines. At principle level, the categorical classification indicated that regarding “good feeding” 5.4% (0%-13.1%) of the farms were classified as “excellent”, 29.7% (14.3%-45.3%) “enhanced”, 48.6% (31.7%-65.5%) “acceptable” and 16.2% (3.8%-28.7%) “not classified”. As regards “good housing”, 5.4% (0%-13.1%) were classified as “excellent”, 64.9% (48.7%-81.0%) “enhanced” and 29.7% (14.3%-45.2%) “acceptable”. 100% (100%-100%) were considered “acceptable” for the “good health” principle. Finally, for “appropriate behaviour” 2.7% (0-8.2%) was classified as “enhanced”, 13.5% (1.9%-25.1%) “acceptable” and 83.8% (71.3%-96.2%) “not classified”. Overall, according to the Welfare Quality® protocol 94.6% (86.5%-100%) farms were classified as “acceptable”, 2.7% (0-8.2%) as “enhanced” and 2.7% (0-8.2%) “not classified”. In conclusion, farms from Galicia could only be considered as “acceptable” in terms of animal welfare, presenting many areas for improvement. The principle scored at its lowest has been “appropriate behaviour”, presenting it as an issue not properly taken into the farmer consideration. Another warning aspect is the management of disease, marked on a bad score for “good health”: As it seems, farmers should include new health-control plans providing better prevention of disease, and include anaesthetic and analgesic plans for dehorning.


dairy cattle, welfare assessment, Welfare Quality®


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