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The Animal Welfare Indicators (AWIN) project, funded by the European Commission in the Seventh Framework Programme, made significant contribution to the improvement of animal conditions through the development, integration and dissemination of animal-based welfare indicators for several animal species, including donkeys. It developed practical on-farm animal welfare assessment protocols with a special emphasis on the recognition and assessment of pain. The project was coordinated by Prof. Adroaldo Zanella and involved 11 European and international partners.

The AWIN approach was grounded on the four animal welfare principles (good feeding, good housing, good health and appropriate behaviour) defined in the Welfare Quality® research project. The AWIN welfare assessment protocol for donkeys shows unique features, such as a two-level strategy, the development of learning material to improve systematic collection of standardised data, and the strategic and participatory approach to stakeholders.

Animal-based indicators were chosen because they directly relate to the animal itself rather than to the environment in which the animal/individual is kept. The indicators can be collected in different housing conditions and used to infer how the animal is affected by external factors.

The AWIN Welfare assessment protocol for donkeys is freely available at http://www.animal-welfare-indicators.net/site/flash/pdf/AWINProtocolDonkeys.pdf