Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/434
Appears in Collections:Aquaculture eTheses
Title: Water quality and welfare assessment on United Kingdom trout farms
Authors: MacIntyre, Craig Mackenzie
Supervisor(s): Turnbull, James F.
Keywords: Rainbow trout
Welfare
Water quality
Issue Date: Mar-2008
Publisher: University of Stirling
Citation: MacIntyre, C.M., Ellis, T., North, B.P., Turnbull, J.F. 2008. The influences of water quality on the welfare of farmed rainbow trout: a review. In: Branson, E.J. (ed) Fish welfare. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford. pp150-184.
Abstract: Interest in the subject of fish welfare is continuing to grow, with increasing public awareness and new legislation in the UK. Water quality has long been recognised as being of prime importance for welfare: water provides the fish with oxygen and removes and dilutes potentially toxic waste metabolites. This thesis investigates the interactions between water quality and the welfare of farmed rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss Walbaum). A literature review was undertaken to identify current recommended water quality limits for the health and welfare of farmed rainbow trout. Contradictions in the literature regarding suggested ‘safe’ water quality limits were also identified, as were deficiencies in some of the methods used to arrive at conclusions for recommended limits. The literature relating to the effects of poor water quality on welfare were also reviewed. The review ends with a discussion about water quality monitoring in the context of on-farm welfare assessment and how the information might be used in such a scheme. A telephone survey of UK rainbow trout farmers was undertaken to ascertain the level of water quality monitoring currently conducted. Participants in this study accounted for over 80% of 2005 UK rainbow trout production. It was established that 54% of farmers monitored dissolved oxygen to some extent and 69% monitored temperature, the most commonly measured water quality parameters and among the most important for health, welfare and growth. Subsequent visits were made to a sample of the participants in the telephone survey to obtain more detailed information of the farming operations, such as frequency of water quality monitoring, retention of production data and slaughter methods. Monitoring water quality will be an integral part of any on-farm welfare assessment scheme, and while measuring some water quality parameters requires specialist equipment, farmers should be able to monitor the essential parameters, dissolved oxygen and temperature. Any on-farm welfare assessment scheme for rainbow trout should incorparate fish-based measures in addition to resource-based parameters in order to provide as complete an overview of trout welfare as possible. An epidemiological study was undertaken to investigate the current status of welfare on UK rainbow trout farms and to identify risk factors for welfare. Forty-four trout farms from throughout the British Isles were visited between July 2005 and April 2007, sampling a total of 3700 fish from 189 different systems. Farms were visited twice, once in winter and once in summer, to account for any seasonal differences in fish physiology and environmental conditions. Data were collected on a range of fish parameters, together with background information on the batch from which the fish originated. Particular emphasis was placed on water quality due to the potential effects this can have on welfare. The water in each system sampled was monitored for 24 hours, with measurements of dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, specific conductivity and ammonia taken every 15 minutes. A welfare score was developed for each fish using a multifactorial method, combining data on the condition of the fins, the condition of the gills, the stress hormone cortisol, the splenosomatic index and the mortality levels for the population of fish in the system. Using this welfare score and the individual components of the score as response variables, multi-level models were developed using the water quality, system and husbandry data collected. The primary risk factor that was associated with deteriorating welfare was disease. The purpose for which the fish was being farmed was also important, as fish farmed for the table market had on average worse welfare than those farmed for restocking fisheries. Seasonal effects, linked to higher water temperatures in summer, were associated with poorer welfare scores. Aside from seasonal effects, there is not much evidence that poor water quality is a major problem for the welfare of farmed rainbow trout in the UK. While deteriorating water quality certainly has the potential to affect the welfare of farmed rainbow trout, water quality measurements were within recommended ranges for the majority of farms visited. The results of this epidemiological study suggest that factors other than water quality may have a greater impact on trout welfare, such as exposure to diseases and production differences between farming for the table and restocking markets.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/434
Affiliation: School of Natural Sciences
Aquaculture

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