This study is the first to use the Welfare Quality Assessment Protocol (WQ® AP) in Algerian farms, with all dimensions of welfare considered together. It aims at estimating the welfare level of dairy cows by identifying their positive and negative aspects in order to improve them and prioritize corrective action for their better sustainability. The observations were conducted in 100 dairy farms; scores were calculated for each farm, expressing the degree of conformity with 11 well-being criteria (absence of hunger, thirst, injury, illness, housing conditions, normal behavior). The results showed a level of well-being degraded with 95 farms classified as unacceptable, 4 farms as acceptable and only one as enhanced. The most degraded scores were related to eight criteria: Absence of prolonged hunger (22.8) and thirst (5.6), ease of movement (23.2), comfort around resting (40.7), absence of injury (37.6), absence of disease (31.9), expression of other behavior (12.6) and good human-animal relationship (34.3). The 95 farms classified as unacceptable are related to a high percentage of very lean cows (33.1%), a high frequency of mastitis (33.6%), lameness (33.8%), respiratory diseases associated with cough (15.6%) and a pronounced state of poor cleanliness on: udder (62.6%), hindquarter (60.6%) and hind limbs (60.6%).
Key words: Animal welfare, assessment protocol, dairy cow, sustainability, score.
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