Optimization of the welfare of small ruminants used for human therapy, education, and recreation


StressChron Framework:

Project code114
Research areaContributing to a more sustainable and animal welfare minded food production
Research topicImproving sustainability and animal welfare in aquaculture and husbandry
SpeciesGoat (Capra aegagrus hircus), sheep (Ovis aries)



The research goal is to develop a practical tool to optimize the welfare of goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) and sheep (Ovis aries) in care farms. Hereto, we will evaluate the animal welfare using the Animal Welfare Indicators Welfare Assessment (AWIN) protocol, behavioral observations and glucocorticoid profiling in saliva and hair as biomarker for acute and chronic stress, respectively. In addition, employees of these farms will be asked to complete a questionnaire about their knowledge of the natural behavior and welfare needs of these animals, and will be giving training on the latter where needed. In all, a set of topics will be defined, discussed with the farm, implemented, and evaluated hereby taking into account the financial impact on the farm.



Keywords: mammal, care farm, welfare, stress, human, therapy

Funding: PWO (focus project 2018)

Status: on-going


Ghent University (Aerts J)

Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Aerts J)

HoGent (Meulemans G, Valgaeren B)



None at present