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Expert opinion as 'validation' of risk assessment applied to calf welfare.

Bracke MB, Edwards SA, Engel B, Buist WG, Algers B - Acta Vet. Scand. (2008)

Bottom Line: Because this is a new and potentially influential approach to derive conclusions on animal welfare issues, a so-called semantic-modelling type 'validation' study was conducted by asking expert scientists, who had been involved or quoted in the report, to give welfare scores for housing systems and for welfare hazards.Overall correlations with EFSA scores were significant only for experts with a veterinary or mixed (veterinary and applied ethological) background.Significant differences in welfare scores were found between housing systems, between hazards, and between experts with different backgrounds.

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Affiliation: Animal Sciences Group, Wageningen University and Research Centre, P,O, Box 65, 8200 AB Lelystad, The Netherlands. marc.bracke@wur.nl.

ABSTRACT

Background: Recently, a Risk Assessment methodology was applied to animal welfare issues in a report of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on intensively housed calves.

Methods: Because this is a new and potentially influential approach to derive conclusions on animal welfare issues, a so-called semantic-modelling type 'validation' study was conducted by asking expert scientists, who had been involved or quoted in the report, to give welfare scores for housing systems and for welfare hazards.

Results: Kendall's coefficient of concordance among experts (n = 24) was highly significant (P < 0.001), but low (0.29 and 0.18 for housing systems and hazards respectively). Overall correlations with EFSA scores were significant only for experts with a veterinary or mixed (veterinary and applied ethological) background. Significant differences in welfare scores were found between housing systems, between hazards, and between experts with different backgrounds. For example, veterinarians gave higher overall welfare scores for housing systems than ethologists did, probably reflecting a difference in their perception of animal welfare. Systems with the lowest scores were veal calves kept individually in so-called "baby boxes" (veal crates) or in small groups, and feedlots. A suckler herd on pasture was rated as the best for calf welfare. The main hazards were related to underfeeding, inadequate colostrum intake, poor stockperson education, insufficient space, inadequate roughage, iron deficiency, inadequate ventilation, poor floor conditions and no bedding. Points for improvement of the Risk Assessment applied to animal welfare include linking information, reporting uncertainty and transparency about underlying values.

Conclusion: The study provides novel information on expert opinion in relation to calf welfare and shows that Risk Assessment applied to animal welfare can benefit from a semantic modelling approach.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Boxplot of welfare scores for housing systems by background (see also Table 2, n = 24 experts). Asterisks and circles indicate two types of outliers identified as standard practice in SPSS. Outliers are scores with values between 1.5 and 3 box lengths from the upper or lower edge of the box. The box length is the interquartile range (i.e. median 25% to 75% of values), while the horizontal line in the box indicates the median value. The two curved lines are connecting median values of ethologists (solid line) and veterinarians (dashed line) respectively.
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Figure 1: Boxplot of welfare scores for housing systems by background (see also Table 2, n = 24 experts). Asterisks and circles indicate two types of outliers identified as standard practice in SPSS. Outliers are scores with values between 1.5 and 3 box lengths from the upper or lower edge of the box. The box length is the interquartile range (i.e. median 25% to 75% of values), while the horizontal line in the box indicates the median value. The two curved lines are connecting median values of ethologists (solid line) and veterinarians (dashed line) respectively.

Mentions: Figures 1 and 2 give boxplots of the housing and hazard scores given by the experts, grouped by their professional background. Figure 1, for example, shows that median welfare scores for the housing system 'baby boxes' were 0.0, 6.0 and 0.0 for ethologists, veterinarians and experts with a mixed (veterinary and ethological) background respectively.


Expert opinion as 'validation' of risk assessment applied to calf welfare.

Bracke MB, Edwards SA, Engel B, Buist WG, Algers B - Acta Vet. Scand. (2008)

Boxplot of welfare scores for housing systems by background (see also Table 2, n = 24 experts). Asterisks and circles indicate two types of outliers identified as standard practice in SPSS. Outliers are scores with values between 1.5 and 3 box lengths from the upper or lower edge of the box. The box length is the interquartile range (i.e. median 25% to 75% of values), while the horizontal line in the box indicates the median value. The two curved lines are connecting median values of ethologists (solid line) and veterinarians (dashed line) respectively.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2483281&req=5

Figure 1: Boxplot of welfare scores for housing systems by background (see also Table 2, n = 24 experts). Asterisks and circles indicate two types of outliers identified as standard practice in SPSS. Outliers are scores with values between 1.5 and 3 box lengths from the upper or lower edge of the box. The box length is the interquartile range (i.e. median 25% to 75% of values), while the horizontal line in the box indicates the median value. The two curved lines are connecting median values of ethologists (solid line) and veterinarians (dashed line) respectively.
Mentions: Figures 1 and 2 give boxplots of the housing and hazard scores given by the experts, grouped by their professional background. Figure 1, for example, shows that median welfare scores for the housing system 'baby boxes' were 0.0, 6.0 and 0.0 for ethologists, veterinarians and experts with a mixed (veterinary and ethological) background respectively.

Bottom Line: Because this is a new and potentially influential approach to derive conclusions on animal welfare issues, a so-called semantic-modelling type 'validation' study was conducted by asking expert scientists, who had been involved or quoted in the report, to give welfare scores for housing systems and for welfare hazards.Overall correlations with EFSA scores were significant only for experts with a veterinary or mixed (veterinary and applied ethological) background.Significant differences in welfare scores were found between housing systems, between hazards, and between experts with different backgrounds.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Animal Sciences Group, Wageningen University and Research Centre, P,O, Box 65, 8200 AB Lelystad, The Netherlands. marc.bracke@wur.nl.

ABSTRACT

Background: Recently, a Risk Assessment methodology was applied to animal welfare issues in a report of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on intensively housed calves.

Methods: Because this is a new and potentially influential approach to derive conclusions on animal welfare issues, a so-called semantic-modelling type 'validation' study was conducted by asking expert scientists, who had been involved or quoted in the report, to give welfare scores for housing systems and for welfare hazards.

Results: Kendall's coefficient of concordance among experts (n = 24) was highly significant (P < 0.001), but low (0.29 and 0.18 for housing systems and hazards respectively). Overall correlations with EFSA scores were significant only for experts with a veterinary or mixed (veterinary and applied ethological) background. Significant differences in welfare scores were found between housing systems, between hazards, and between experts with different backgrounds. For example, veterinarians gave higher overall welfare scores for housing systems than ethologists did, probably reflecting a difference in their perception of animal welfare. Systems with the lowest scores were veal calves kept individually in so-called "baby boxes" (veal crates) or in small groups, and feedlots. A suckler herd on pasture was rated as the best for calf welfare. The main hazards were related to underfeeding, inadequate colostrum intake, poor stockperson education, insufficient space, inadequate roughage, iron deficiency, inadequate ventilation, poor floor conditions and no bedding. Points for improvement of the Risk Assessment applied to animal welfare include linking information, reporting uncertainty and transparency about underlying values.

Conclusion: The study provides novel information on expert opinion in relation to calf welfare and shows that Risk Assessment applied to animal welfare can benefit from a semantic modelling approach.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus