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Qualitative assessment of behaviour as a method for the integration of welfare measurements. - AW0132

Currently there is no single approach that integrates and links the various societal and scientific aspects of the animal welfare debate. Recent research at SAC has investigated whether the quantitative assessment of animal behavioural expressions might prove a valid scientific tool for the integration of different scientific approaches to animal welfare. This work has applied Free-Choice-Profiling methodology (FPC), and the associated statistical approach of Generalised Procrustes Analysis (GPA), to the qualitative assessment of animal behaviour. FCP elicits spontaneous qualitative descriptions of animal behaviour (e.g. `conflict`; ``anxious`), and the level of consensus in those assessments can be calculated with GPA. To date the FCP/GPA approach has been shown to have high internal validity (i.e. high levels of inter- and intra-observer reliability) and to be highly correlated to quantitative behavioural measures.

These results suggest that the FCP/GPA method for qualitative behaviour assessment has the potential to integrate other scientific measurements of animal welfare, an apporach that can be referred to as `vertical integration`. In addition, the characteristics of this method (`whole animal`; `integrative`; `spontaneous`) suggest that it has the potential to be used as a practical tool for on-farm welfare assessment and surveillance, an apporach which can be referred to as `horizontal integration`.

The overall objective of the work proposed here is to develop this potential of FCP/GPA to integrate different types of biological data releant to animal welfare. The general hypothesis will be that the highly integrative nature of the FCP/GPA approach makes it a more effective and practical method of integrating biological data into coherant judgements of animal welfare than conventional scientific approaches. The specific objectives of this work are to (a) integrate the FCP/GPA approach with physiological/nerological welfare indicators; (b) develop the FCP/GPA approach for scientific on-farm welfare assessment; (c) develop the FCP/GPA approach for veterinary surveillance purposes.

To achieve these objectives it will be necessary to develop and test the FCP/GPA methodology in a range of `vertical` and `horizontal` studies. To initiate such a range of studies solely for this purpose would be both expensive and miss opportunites for integrating the FCP/GPA approach with other quantitative approaches.
The overall objective of the work proposel here is to develop the potential of FCP/GPA to intyegrate different types of biological data relevant to animal welfare, in a range of `vertical` and `horizontal` studies. The specific objectives of this work are:
01: To apply the FCP/GPA approach to scientific on-farm welfare assessment;
02: To develop the FCP/GPA approach with physiological/neurological welfare indicators.
Project Documents
• Final Report : AW0132 Final report   (214k)
• Final Report - Annex : AW0132 Final report Appendix A   (405k)
• Final Report - Annex : AW0132 Final report Appendix B   (529k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2001

To: 2006

Cost: £356,147
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Scottish Agricultural College
Livestock Farming              
Fields of Study
Animal Welfare