Review of methodologies applicable to the validation of animal based indicators of welfare

animal welfare, dairy cows, animal based welfare indicators, database, visualisation tools, discriminant analysis, network analysis
First published in EFSA Supporting Publications
4 August 2011
6 June 2011
External Scientific Report

The present document has been produced and adopted by the bodies identified above as authors. In accordance with Article 36 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, this task has been carried out exclusively by the authors in the context of a grant agreement between the European Food Safety Authority and the authors. The present document is published complying with the transparency principle to which the European Food Safety Authority is subject. It may not be considered as an output adopted by EFSA. EFSA reserves its rights, view and position as regards the issues addressed and the conclusions reached in the present document, without prejudice to the rights of the authors.


EFSA is requested to produce scientific opinions on the use of animal-based indicators to assess the welfare of farm animals. More specifically, EFSA is requested to identify which animal based indicators proposed by the Welfare Quality® project could be used to fulfil the recommendations of previous EFSA scientific opinions and how the Welfare Quality® assessment protocols cover main hazards that EFSA identified.

The technical review describes available methods and tools to ascertain and qualify existing correspondence between animal welfare hazards and animal-based welfare indicators and that could be applied to evaluate and validate the use of animal based indicators of welfare in monitoring and control of animal welfare.

Discriminant analyses, classification tree and random forest, and network analyses were indentified as methods most suitable to study relationships and visualisation between animal based measures.

Review recommends KNIME platform as tools for computing, visualisations and generation tailored reports for proposed methodology base on software platform efficiency, flexibility, possibilities to communicate with database management system and usability.

Dairy cows have been used as working example in this review however proposed methods could be applied for other farm animals.

Question Number
On request from
European Commission