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Assessment of welfare indicators in grazing dairy cows in Northeast Brazil

  • Santos, Severino Guilherme Caetano Gonça...
  • Saraiva, Edilson Paes
  • Fonseca, Vinicius de França Carvalho
  • Saraiva, Carla Aparecida Soares
  • Gonzaga Neto, Severino
  • Fidelis, Sérgio da Silva
  • Amorim, Mikael Leal Cabral Menezes de
  • Santos, José Danrley Cavalcante dos
Publication Date
Nov 06, 2020
Semina: Ciências Agrárias
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The welfare of dairy cows is a major global concern, due to its impact on cow health and productivity, as well as public health. The aim of this study was to identify the main problems related to welfare in dairy herds managed on pasture in the state of Paraíba, Brazil. For this investigation, a cross-sectional study was conducted in 12 dairy farms in the municipalities of Areia, Alagoa Grande, Serraria, and Pilões, Paraíba, Brazil. Each farm was visited only once, recording the number of cows in the herd, type and number of milkings per day, daily milk yield, and access time to the pasture. Body condition score, cleanliness score, bodily injuries, and qualitative behavioral assessment (QBA) were measured. A total of 335 dairy cows were evaluated; herds ranged from 14 to 43 lactating cows, with an average milk yield of 8.4 ± 3.25 kg day-1. Of the 335 cows observed, 26% had a low body condition score, 82% had bodily injuries, and 20% had dirt on their legs. For the QBA, a principal component analysis (PCA) indicated that PC1 had a high correlation mainly with positive body expressions (e.g., sociable, active, and happy), and PC2 was associated with negative terms of body expression (e.g., apathetic, frustrated, and fearful). In conclusion, evaluating indicators of cows’ body condition, bodily injury, and cleanliness highlighted the importance of promoting improvements in pasture, management, and housing conditions to enable better performance, health, and welfare of the animals.

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