D. Gavojdian

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D. Gavojdian, N. Pacala, Maria Sauer, I. Padeanu, S.O. Voia

The purpose of this study was to determine the level of welfare provided to sheep reared and exploited in commercial farms of various sizes in the western part of Romania. The research was conducted in 25 private farms from Timis County, farms of various sizes (ranging between 93 and 1680 heads of mature rams and breeding ewes). Welfare assessment and rearing condition were analyzed and evaluated using interviews on farms based on a questionnaire elaborated by the authors of the current study. The results revealed that, depending on the farm, the sheep are kept during cold season indoors between 14.2 and 70.5 days with an average period of 36.4 days indoors. Only 52 % of farmers interviewed feed differentiated the ewes with multiple births, and 32% of them apply stimulating feeding in lambs. Major losses through mortality in lambs until the age of 8 months are caused by lung diseases (40%), excessive consumption of corn in the autumn (11%), predators attack (stray dogs, wolves, foxes - 13 %), mortality caused by digestive tract affections or lameness (21 %) and finally, drowning in irrigation canals (6%). Top 5 reasons for reforming the sheep are: age of the sheep (38%), infertility (23%), low productivity (15%), mastitis (15%) and lameness (9%).

Key words: animal welfare, sheep rearing, commercial farms