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Publisher: Glyndŵr University Research Online
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: Animals, Non-invasive, Welfare assessment, Zoology, Horse, Cortisol, Animal Sciences, Saliva, Behaviour scores, Large or Food Animal and Equine Medicine
Behaviour scores (BS) offer non-invasive, objective and easy to use ways of assessing welfare in animals. Their development has, however, largely focused on behavioural reactions to stressful events (often induced), and little use of physiological measures has been made to underpin and validate the behavioural measures. This study aimed to develop a physiologically validated scale of behavioural indicators of stress for the purpose of welfare assessment in stabled domestic horses. To achieve this, behavioural and physiological data were collected from 32 horses that underwent routine husbandry procedures. Principal component analysis (PCA) of the behavioural and physiological data revealed three meaningful components that were used as the basis of the scale. Analysis of video clips of the horses’ responses to the husbandry procedures was undertaken by a panel of equestrian industry professionals using a free choice profiling (FCP) methodology. These results were added to the scale along with key definitions from relevant literature. Salivary cortisol levels were significantly correlated with the BS confirming the scale was meaningful and reflected physiological stress. The scale offers an easy to use ‘tool’ for rapid, reliable non-invasive welfare assessment in horses, and reduces the need for potentially invasive physiological measures.
  • The results below are discovered through our pilot algorithms. Let us know how we are doing!

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