Development of a welfare index for thoroughbred racehorses

Mactaggart, Alison Glen (2016). Development of a welfare index for thoroughbred racehorses PhD Thesis, School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland. doi:10.14264/uql.2016.353

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Author Mactaggart, Alison Glen
Thesis Title Development of a welfare index for thoroughbred racehorses
School, Centre or Institute School of Veterinary Science
Institution The University of Queensland
DOI 10.14264/uql.2016.353
Publication date 2016-06-20
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Clive Phillips
Natalie Waran
Total pages 216
Total black and white pages 216
Language eng
Subjects 0707 Veterinary Sciences
0702 Animal Production
Formatted abstract
A uniform method capable of measuring animal welfare within the Thoroughbred Racing Industry (TBRI) does not exist. The aims of this study were to first investigate the importance of different welfare issues for Thoroughbred Racehorses (TBR) in Australia and then to incorporate them into a TBR welfare index (TRWI) that could be utilised in the industry. The second aim was assisted by the first, which utilised the expert opinion of stakeholders with in the TRWI, highlighting those aspects of husbandry requiring most improvement, and validated with behavioural measures. National and State Associations linked to racing were invited to send two delegates (experts) to a stakeholder meeting to determine key welfare issues, which they considered may have negative equine welfare implications. Following this a survey was created which posed vignettes of different combinations of welfare issues, which was subsequently presented to stakeholders around Australia. Fourteen key welfare issues were identified, each with two to four levels that were related to common husbandry practices. The 224 respondents identified the following welfare issues in declining order of importance: horsemanship > health and disease > education of the horse > track design and surface > ventilation > stabling > weaning > transport > nutrition > wastage > heat and humidity > whips > environment > gear. Further analysis of data tested the statistical significance of demographic factors, which determined that the respondents were relatively uniform in their answers. The TRWI which emerged from the responses could potentially be used to identify and improve welfare in training establishments.

The TRWI was validated by an assessment of Thoroughbred racehorse welfare through behavioural observation measures in 13 Thoroughbred racehorse training establishments and by an Australia wide survey of TBR trainers. This determined how key welfare issues relate to the behaviour of TBR’s. By highlighting the most critical aspects of TBR welfare issues the TRWI has the potential to improve TBR practices, lower wastage within the industry, improve TBRI’s profitability, improve the safety of riders and workers, and improve the public’s perception of the industry.
Keyword Thoroughbred

Document type: Thesis
Collections: UQ Theses (RHD) - Official
UQ Theses (RHD) - Open Access
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Created: Sun, 05 Jun 2016, 19:26:25 EST by Alison Mactaggart on behalf of Learning and Research Services (UQ Library)