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There is a growing need to monitor the health and welfare of farm animals, and to develop methods which do so efficiently and reliably. A crucial problem with current methods is the integration of separate measurements taken during farm visits into accurate judgements of an animal’s overall welfare state. This paper proposes that the qualitative assessment of animal behaviour may serve as an integrative methodology which could guide the interpretation of other, more detailed welfare measurements. Recent research has demonstrated qualitative behaviour assessment to be reliable and repeatable under controlled experimental conditions. The paper concludes with a discussion of ways in which this method may be adapted for practical on-farm use.


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