In Europe, minimal standards for the protection of veal calves are defined in EU directives but do not necessarily guarantee a sufficient level of animal welfare. There is a need for an on-farm evaluation tool of the welfare of veal calves based on direct observations of the animals.
The present work suggests several measures for the on-farm assessment of three aspects of the welfare of veal calves: the relationship between veal calves and their caretaker, the level of expression of abnormal oral behaviours and the prevalence of respiratory disorders. In addition, a risk factor analysis was conducted to determine which factors of the environment, housing and management of calves could affect these three aspects of their welfare. The outcomes of this study will help providing practical advices to farmers for the improvement of the welfare of veal calves on farms