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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Caracterización del bienestar animal en explotaciones de vacuno lechero de la raza Holstein del noreste de España

Garcia-Perez, Cesareo; Villalba-Mata, Daniel; Casals-Maestre, Rita; Blanco-Penedo, Isabel


The objective of this study was to evaluate animal welfare, in Holstein dairy cattle farms in the northe-ast of Spain, to assess the influence of heat stress on welfare indicators and to analyse possible welfare differences between farm's typologies. For that purpose, The Welfare Quality (R) protocol was used in 26 farms, in winter and summer. Animal based indicators were assessed and information on resources, management and farm descriptors was collected. From a total of 52 farms visits performed, 67.3 % ob-tained the overall score of acceptable, 28.8 % enhanced and 3.8 % were not classified. Only 14.8 % of the animals did not present any type of integument alteration. Additionally, 73.1 % and 69.2 % of the farms do not use analgesia or anaesthesia respectively during dehorning. Most of the farms (92.3 %) used analgesia and anaesthesia for tail docking. Despite the absence of statistically significant (P > 0.05) dif-ferences in the score of the welfare principles between seasons were observed. On the other hand, sta-tistical differences between seasons (P < 0.05) were observed in the percentage of dirty udders and per-centage of animals with hampered respiration, associated with a higher level heat stress. Finally, no major differences in the welfare criteria were observed between different farm typologies. Most farms achieve the overall score of acceptable but attention is required to cow comfort and pain relief. In the context of climate change, it is important that on-farm welfare assessment protocols covers thermal comfort.


Welfare Quality®THI index; agonistic behaviour; cow; intensive farming; lameness

Published in

Itea-Informacion Tecnica Economica Agraria
2022, Volume: 118, number: 2, pages: 239-261

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Animal and Dairy Science

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