ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202012.0109.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Other Keywords: animal welfare assessment; categorisation; beef cow systems; semi-arid rangelands; Namibia
Online: 4 December 2020 (12:36:14 CET)
The study aimed to develop standards for a welfare assessment protocol, by validating potential categorisation thresholds for assessment of beef farms in various beef cow-calf production systems in Namibia. Forty measures combined from a New Zealand-based protocol plus Namibia-specific measures, were applied on 55 beef farms (17 commercial farms, 20 semi-commercial and 18 communal village farms) during pregnancy testing, and a questionnaire guided interview. The categorised measures on a 3-point welfare score of 0: good 1: marginal and 2: poor/unacceptable welfare were subsequently compared with derivation of thresholds based upon the poorest 15% and best 50% of herds for each measure. Overall combined thresholds of continuous measures across the 3 farm types, showed 10/22 measures that posed welfare compromise across Namibia, where commercial farms had 4/22 measures and semi-commercial and communal village farms had 12/22 and 11/22 respectively with high thresholds. Most measures-imposed thresholds were retained because of significant importance to welfare of animals and preventiveness of the traits, while leniency was given to adjust good feeding and mortality measures to signify periods of drought. Handling measures (fearful, falling/lying) and abrasions thresholds were adjusted to reflect the temporary stress caused by infrequent cattle handling, and faulty yard designs/design and possible cattle breed influence on handling. Hence, the country needs prioritised investigation of underlying contributing factors and remediation to reduce the high thresholds.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202012.0101.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Biochemistry Keywords: animal welfare assessment; beef cow systems; semi-arid rangelands; Namibia
Online: 4 December 2020 (11:11:53 CET)
A proposed animal welfare assessment protocol for semi-arid rangeland-based cow-calf systems in Namibia combined 40 measures from a protocol developed for beef cattle in New Zealand with additional Namibia-specific measures. Preliminary validation of the protocol had been undertaken with five herds in one semi-commercial village. The aim of the current study was to apply this protocol and compare animal welfare across three cow-calf production systems in Namibia. A total of 2529 beef cows were evaluated during pregnancy testing in the yards of 17 commercial, 20 semi-commercial and 18 communal (total: 55) herds followed by an assessment of farm resources and a questionnaire-guided interview. Non-parametric tests were used to evaluate the difference in the welfare scores between the production systems. The results indicated a discrepancy of animal welfare between the three farm types, with a marked separation of commercial farms from semi-commercial, and communal village farms in the least. The differences in these production systems was mainly driven by economic gains through access to better beef export market for commercial farms and semi-commercial villages, as well as by the differences in the available grazing land, facility designs/quality and traditional customs in the village systems. The results indicate an advantage of commercialisation over communalisation.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202011.0247.v1
Subject: Medicine & Pharmacology, Allergology Keywords: beef cow welfare; reproductive performance; New Zealand
Online: 6 November 2020 (15:38:20 CET)
One key area where animal welfare may relate to productivity is through reproductive performance. Welfare was assessed on 25 extensively managed pastoral New Zealand beef farms and the relationship between welfare and reproductive performance was explored. Relationships between welfare measures and key reproductive performance indicators (pregnancy rate, weaning rate, mating period and bull: cow ratio) were investigated using an exploratory Principal Components Analysis and linear regression model. Seven welfare measures (thinness, poor rumen fill, dirtiness, blindness, mortality, health checks of pregnant cows and yarding frequency/year) showed potential influence on reproductive performance, and lameness was retained individually as a potential measure. Mean pregnancy rates in both 2018 (PD18) and 2017 (PD17) were ~91% and mean weaning rate was 84%. Of the welfare measures, only lameness had a direct association with pregnancy rate, as well as confounding effect on the association between mating period and pregnancy rate. The bull: cow ration (mean 1:31) and reproductive conditions (dystocia, abortion, vaginal prolapse) did not influence pregnancy and weaning rates. In the study population there was no clear association between welfare and reproductive performance, except for the confounding effects of lameness.