Document type: scientific article published in Animals
Authors: Zoe Raw, Joao B. Rodrigues, Karen Rickards, Joe Ryding, Stuart L. Norris, Andrew Judge, Laura M. Kubasiewicz, Tamlin L. Watson, Holly Little, Ben Hart, Rebekah Sullivan, Chris Garrett and Faith A. Burden
Preview: Animal welfare is a global concern which receives close public scrutiny. Numerous non-profit and non-governmental organisations exist to address problems relating to poor animal welfare, but there are multiple challenges surrounding how animal welfare is measured and recorded. We focus on the specific challenges around assessing equid welfare worldwide, and identify how stakeholders in this field of work are often unable to collaborate or pool resources due to differences in the welfare assessment tools they use. There is a need for a single welfare assessment tool which can be used across multiple contexts, yet which can yield comparable datasets to coordinate the approach to, and understanding of, global equid welfare. In response, we developed the Equid Assessment, Research and Scoping (EARS) tool which builds upon previously validated techniques, but extends them in a new framework which is applicable to multiple contexts. We have developed nine protocols, based upon 19 welfare indicators, and we describe the process of development here. We present the results from field-trialling three of the most frequently used protocols during the course of our work, assessing equids globally in farms and working environments, and equids on sanctuaries and properties in the UK and Europe. We found that the tool offered an easy and relatively quick way of collecting welfare data across multiple contexts, and propose that if developed further, it could be adopted by other organisations working to assess, understand and improve equid welfare worldwide.