The welfare state of cattle in dairy farms in Macedonia has never been assessed previously. The objective of this study was to perform screening analysis of dairy cows welfare and to test the practical implementation of the Welfare Quality® Assessment protocol for cattle in dairy farms in Macedonia. In ten small scale and large scale tie stall farms 23 measures were recorded related to 9 welfare criteria of 4 welfare principles (WP) described in the Welfare Quality® Assessment protocol for dairy cows. The mean percentage of very lean cows was 40.5±9.1%. All assessed farms were not providing access to pasture and an outdoor loafing area. Regarding cleanliness, the presence of dirty udder, upper leg/flank and lower leg was 65.2±9.0%, 85.5±8.0% and 86.5±5.8%, respectively. The overall prevalence of lameness was 5.6±5.0%, and for mild and severe alterations it was 30.8±5.8% and 54.1±4.6%, respectively. The ocular and vulvar discharge, diarrhea, dystocia, percentage of downer cows and mortality rate exceeded the warning and alarm threshold. The avoidance - distance test classified 70.4±6.8% as animals that can be touched or approached closer than 50cm, with overall score of 42.9±3.5. This screening reveals that the most welfare concerns are found in the WP Good Feeding and Good Housing. The on-farm welfare assessment using the full protocol on a representative sample of farms in the country is highly recommended for emphasizing the key points for improving the animal welfare in Macedonian dairy farms.
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