Welfare and management practices of free-ranging yaks in Bhutan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract

Abstract

This study assessed the welfare of free-ranging yaks in Bhutan in the winter of 2018/2019. To this end, we observed behaviour and health status of yaks in three yak-farming regions (east, central and west) of Bhutan. In total, we assessed 567 cows and 549 calves for integumentary condition, body cleanliness, ocular and nasal discharge, diarrhoea signs, mutilations and gait. Moreover, we assessed 324 cows and 272 calves for avoidance distance and examined 324 cows for subclinical mastitis. The behaviour of the herds was observed in six consecutive 20-minute blocks. Each block was divided into two stages. The first stage (5 minutes) consisted of counting the number of animals eating, lying down, standing idle and walking. The second stage (15 minutes) consisted of counting the number of events of agonistic, allogrooming, flehming, self-licking, rubbing/scratching and playing behaviour. A linear mixed model was used to analyse regional differences in the behavioural states and events of yaks, with herd used as the random effect. Avoidance distance of calves in the central and western region was shorter than that of calves in the eastern region (P<0.001), but no differences were observed between lactating cows. A few instances of agonistic (0.01 event per animal/15 min) and flehming behaviour (0.06 event per animal/15 min) were observed. Yaks in the central and western region exhibited more scratching and rubbing behaviour (both 0.20 event per animal/15 min) than in the eastern region (0.11 event per animal/15 min; P=0.001), probably due to higher loads of ectoparasites. With respect to mutilations, bulls are often castrated which is generally done without analgaesics, which is considered very painful. Aside from several potential risk factors and some regional differences, the welfare status of yaks living in Bhutan was assessed as good at the time of visit.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 8th International Conference on the Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group level
EditorsLaura Boyle, Keelin O'Driscoll
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
Pages155-155
Number of pages1
ISBN (Electronic)9789086869015
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2021
Event8th International Conference on The Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group level - Cork, Ireland
Duration: 16 Aug 202119 Aug 2021

Conference

Conference8th International Conference on The Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group level
Abbreviated titleWAFL 2021
Country/TerritoryIreland
CityCork
Period16/08/2119/08/21

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Welfare and management practices of free-ranging yaks in Bhutan'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this