Qualitative Behaviour Assessment (QBA) is a welfare evaluation tool that uses a holistic approach to capturing an animal’s emotional state. Lists of QBA descriptors validated to assess pig welfare exist, but their definitions are often not described in peer-reviewed literature and the processes used to develop definitions are lacking. The objective of this study is to detail a systematic approach to creating clear definitions for a pre-existing fixed list of QBA descriptors and test their application. A fixed list of 20 descriptors from the EU Welfare Quality® assessment protocol for pigs was modified, and ten pig experts were recruited to assist with defining these descriptors in a focus group-style discussion. Half of the experts involved in creating descriptor definitions partook in a subsequent step, where the newly developed definitions were tested by implementing QBA on a video library of post-weaned sows selected to capture the breadth of sow behaviour. Experts displayed excellent agreement in identifying a PCA dimension interpreted as the valence of descriptors and good agreement for another reflecting arousal. Inter-observer reliability was also measured for each descriptor. Only two descriptors exhibited less than moderate agreement between experts whereas half of the descriptors evoked substantial agreement or better. These findings support our process to delineate clear definitions for a fixed list of QBA descriptors in pigs. This study is the first of its kind detailing the in-depth process of creating and verifying descriptor definitions for future use in sow welfare assessment.

A systematic approach to defining and verifying descriptors used in the Qualitative Behavioural Assessment of sows / S. Ibach, J. Chou, M. Battini, T.D. Parsons. - In: ANIMAL WELFARE. - ISSN 0962-7286. - 33:(2024), pp. e8.1-e8.8. [10.1017/awf.2024.6]

A systematic approach to defining and verifying descriptors used in the Qualitative Behavioural Assessment of sows

M. Battini
Penultimo
;
2024

Abstract

Qualitative Behaviour Assessment (QBA) is a welfare evaluation tool that uses a holistic approach to capturing an animal’s emotional state. Lists of QBA descriptors validated to assess pig welfare exist, but their definitions are often not described in peer-reviewed literature and the processes used to develop definitions are lacking. The objective of this study is to detail a systematic approach to creating clear definitions for a pre-existing fixed list of QBA descriptors and test their application. A fixed list of 20 descriptors from the EU Welfare Quality® assessment protocol for pigs was modified, and ten pig experts were recruited to assist with defining these descriptors in a focus group-style discussion. Half of the experts involved in creating descriptor definitions partook in a subsequent step, where the newly developed definitions were tested by implementing QBA on a video library of post-weaned sows selected to capture the breadth of sow behaviour. Experts displayed excellent agreement in identifying a PCA dimension interpreted as the valence of descriptors and good agreement for another reflecting arousal. Inter-observer reliability was also measured for each descriptor. Only two descriptors exhibited less than moderate agreement between experts whereas half of the descriptors evoked substantial agreement or better. These findings support our process to delineate clear definitions for a fixed list of QBA descriptors in pigs. This study is the first of its kind detailing the in-depth process of creating and verifying descriptor definitions for future use in sow welfare assessment.
animal welfare; emotional state; on-farm welfare assessment; pigs; QBA; Welfare Quality®
Settore AGR/19 - Zootecnica Speciale
2024
Article (author)
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/1029398
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