Video Capture Valuable in Improving Animal Welfare

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Farmscape for March 5, 2021

Full Interview 11:08 Listen

Research conducted by the Western College of Veterinary Medicine shows the value of the use of video in conducting animal welfare assessments while reducing the risks of exposing animals to disease and cutting costs. Researchers are evaluating the use of body cameras, similar to those used by police departments, as a tool to support remote animal welfare assessments. Dr. Giuliana Miguel Pacheco, a Post Doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, explains 16 animal welfare indicators, including cleanliness, the presence of skin or tail lesions and fear of humans were used to validate the cameras.

Clip-Dr. Giuliana Miguel Pacheco-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
The main finding was that these cameras can be used to collect video footage that can be used to run animal welfare assessments remotely. The agreement we observed between what assessors saw on farm was high when compared with what was captured from the videos.
However, when we look at the data from the first stage of endeavor for example the agreement was not as strong. This gave us an indication that potentially a lack of training was causing the difference because the background knowledge or lack of it may affect the way we measure or assess something, creating a difference or disagreement on the scores. We are expecting that anybody involved with running pig welfare assessments can use this information, from researchers to farmers, production managers or assurance program assessors. They can use the body cameras to know how their pigs are and potentially identify any major issues as these cameras can capture good quality images in good lighting.

Barn staff for example can go around waring or holding the body cameras and data can be sent to be assessed by a veterinarian or the barn manager. So veterinary visits or assessments can be done with no delay and additionally reducing the cost of travel and particularly the risks involved with multisite visits.

Dr. Miguel Pacheco notes, when researchers setting up the study, COVID-19 was not part of the equation, so this approach is also away to work around the current COVID restrictions.

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