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PLoS One. 2018 Jul 30;13(7):e0201363. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0201363. eCollection 2018.

An exploration of industry expert perception of Canadian equine welfare using a modified Delphi technique.

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Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


The diversity of sectors that comprise the equine industry makes reaching a consensus regarding welfare issues a challenge. To allow for productive discussion, equine professionals (n = 34) chosen to represent the diverse specializations from across Canada were surveyed using the Delphi technique-a survey technique employing multiple, iterative "rounds" to consolidate viewpoints-to gather and consolidate information regarding areas of welfare concern in the Canadian equine industry. Only participants who completed the prior round could participate in subsequent rounds. In the first round, respondents were asked to identify examples of welfare issues. Qualitative analysis was used to sort and group answers based on their similarities. Participants identified 12 welfare issues best addressed at the individual horse level, and an additional 12 welfare issues best addressed at the industry level. In the second (n = 24) and third (n = 14) rounds, welfare issues, solutions, and potential motives were consolidated based on order ranking. Themes of "ignorance" and "lack of knowledge" identified throughout all three rounds were cited as both potential risks to welfare as well as motives leading to poor welfare situations. Responses in this study suggest that in order to improve the welfare of equids in the Canadian industry, equine professionals propose that a greater effort is required to help educate industry members and stakeholders such that, through daily routine care and management, higher standards of welfare can be attained.

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