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Development, integration and dissemination of animal-based welfare indicators, including pain, in commercially important husbandry species, with special emphasis on small ruminants, equidae & turkeys (WELFARE INDICATORS)
Start date: May 1, 2011, End date: Apr 30, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Animal welfare is one of the topics that has consistently ranked on the top of items brought to the attention of governmental organizations and politicians across European countries. Concerns about animal welfare among European citizens are founded in well thought expectations from governments, industry and other stakeholders. The tremendous public scrutiny on animal welfare related issues put excessive pressure on lawmakers who are expected to offer rapid and effective solutions to perceived animal welfare problems. The need for rapid responses to address animal welfare issues has, oftentimes, pressured animal welfare scientists to develop suboptimal criteria to assess animal welfare and created a gap between fundamental scientific questions in this new scientific discipline and the applied aspects needed to attend the immediate public concerns. In this proposal our goal is to rescue the balance on the need for a science based approach to investigate animal welfare questions. We will develop and test animal based welfare, including pain, indicators in sheep, goats, horses, donkeys and turkeys. In addition we will engage veterinarians to study the relationship between diseases and animal welfare. We will also address more fundamental questions measuring husbandry factors that may affect pre-natal programming of adaptive strategies that my compromise the validity and reliability of welfare indicators. Finally we will integrate research, teaching and outreach activities through the Global Research and Teaching School (Hub) in Animal Welfare Science in order to promote sustainability fostering long-term competitiveness in the European animal industry through a transparent and inclusive relationship among stakeholders.
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