Within BoviWell (a French animal welfare assessment system), certain indicators are only recorded for young cattle and animal with no access to outdoors. These three indicators are to be evaluated by the technician on the farm box by box for young cattle, according to a sample calculated automatically by the diagnostic tool: "les jeux de langue" = tongue rolling, "le pica" = object liking "la succion" = cross sucking. They are stereotypies, belonging to the freedoms: Be able to express natural behaviors specific to the species and Not experience fear or distress.
Tongue rolling is defined by repetitive and invariable sequences of tongue movements in animals without any apparent function. Object licking is a deviation in feeding behavior, which results in ingestion of foreign substances for herbivores, and excessive licking of various materials. Cross sucking results in oral activities towards its congeners towards the navel, tail, foreskin, etc..
The method used for evaluation is that the technician in charge of the Boviwell diagnosis counts, for young cattle and animals with no access to the outside, the number of time there is an abnormal behavior.
For example :
- 10 animals are showing signs of PICA à Score is 10
- 1 animal is showing signs of Pica and Sucking à Score is 2
- 1 animal is showing signs of Pica multiple times during the observation à Score is 1
Depending on the % of animal presenting the behavior (score), a note is then attributed
Additionally with these criteria it is also noted the access to the outdoors (number of month and time), the enrichments and the animal/breeder relationship (number of animals that can be touched)
Then final rating for this liberty (category) will depend on the minimal note of all the criteria in that liberty :
- Level "Unclassified" : minimal note under 20 - Level "In progress" : minimal note between 20 and 55 - Level “Higher" : minimal note over 55 and under 80 - Level "Excellent" : minimal note over 80
The note then counts for 18% of the general note for the Boviwell Diagnosis.
If a farm has 60 on all the other criteria, but 0 on the stereotypies, the farm will then be classified in “in progress”. If it’s 60 on the sterotypies, it would be “higher”. It could have an impact one the valorization of the meat, as the Label Rouge for example only accepts “Higher” farms
Emmanuel Bernard, Charolais breeder, carried out the diagnosis on his farm, and gives us his feelings:
A building technician's observation phase follows to assess compliance with the five fundamental freedoms via several criteria: body condition score, number of drinkers, cleanliness of animals, sleeping surface, light, injuries, possible lameness, etc. An approach test is added and, for young cattle and the control of “normal” behaviors: sucking ... This diagnosis results in an overall mark of well-being for the herd, but above all it allows us to work out with the technician levers of action. And to reassure himself before reassuring the consumer as evidenced by Emmanuel Bernard, breeder of Charolais in Nièvre and vice-president of the FNB. The latter says he first saw this process as an additional constraint "even though personally, I am very sensitive to this issue and to the societal attacks we are subjected to. For me, animal welfare is not a problem, I have no doubts about my job and my practices, but I saw in this tool a tool for collective reinsurance and progress at my level. "Pragmatic, Emmanuel Bernard also expects any tool, like any technician, to" earn more than what it costs ". The diagnosis confirms in the Burgundian breeder an above-average level of animal welfare with strengths such as particularly calm animals, high comfort but also areas for improvement: the use of painkillers during operations. disbudding or watering of young cattle revisited. "We had a JB fattening house dating from the 1980s with small huts and a drinker for two huts, but an animal must have access to two drinkers. We couldn't build a new building, so we redesigned the huts, made larger lots, removed the barriers so that the JBs had access to two drinking troughs. This is a question I hadn't thought about. Of course, it didn't double the ADG of the calves, but it made us progress. "