Animal Comfort Tool

  1. Introduction: What is the cow comfort tool?
  2. Questionnaire: Assessing cow management
  3. How to measure the housing environment:
  4. How to score injury, cleanliness, body condition and lameness on the farm
  5. Scoring Sheets:
  6. Cow Welfare Assessment - Explanation of Free Stall Scoring


The objective of this research project was to develop an on-farm animal comfort assessment tool that helps producers assess how well they are meeting the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals: Dairy Cattle (DFC, 2009) and that identifies management and environment modifications that could potentially improve dairy cow welfare on their farms.

The assessment tool addressed critical areas of dairy cow comfort, including accommodation and housing, feed and water, and health management. Targets of good practices were identified from the requirements and recommendations of the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle. Each farm received a score for each target, ranging from 0 (target not reached) to 100 (target reached). Two hundred and ten farms were surveyed in three provinces of Canada (Quebec, Ontario and Alberta). Data were collected on management, housing and on the animals. Standard operating procedures were developed to ensure consistency in measuring and recording data. As part of this process, periodical checks were performed by trainers to evaluate the consistency between the 15 assessors and ensure they all remained above the 85% agreement level.

An evaluation report was provided and discussed with each producer, identifying strengths and areas for improvement that could benefit dairy cow welfare on their farms. There was a large variation between farms (25 - 95%) on how well targets were reached. Over 90% of surveyed producers were convinced of the effectiveness of our tool at assessing cow welfare and helping them to make decisions for improvements.