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Development of an evaluation index for the practical assessment of trout welfare aspects

StressChron Framework:

Project code 125
Role Partner
Research area Contributing to a more sustainable and animal welfare minded food production
Research topic Improving sustainability and animal welfare in aquaculture and husbandry
Vertebrate Fish
Species Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)


The research goal is to develop an evaluation index which assesses individual animal protection aspects and animal welfare indicators using the example of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) during the grow-out phase in German aquaculture. By means of the evaluation index, it is possible to assess the prevailing methods and systems of trout-farming in terms of animal welfare, and the extent to which animal welfare components are being implemented. By using an evaluation sheet, the fish farmer can communicate his animal welfare efforts and actions directly to the consumer if needed. For the consumer, this provides the opportunity to make his purchasing decisions based on animal welfare through the product-specific animal welfare assessment of the food trout. The evaluation index will be applied and evaluated in various farms with extensive and intensive ponds and with raceways, respectively. Hereby, trout from different farms will be examined for pathological-morphological, pathological-histological, microbiological, virological and molecular biological signs of disease on one side and for chronic stress and its effect on the immune system on the other side.


Keywords: aquaculture, fish, welfare, stress, cortisol, scale

Funding: German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU)

Status: On-going


Ghent University (Aerts J)

Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Aerts J)

Gesellschaft für Marine Aquakultur mbH (GMA), Büsum, Germany (Schulz C, Seibel H, Weirup L)


Weirup L, Schulz, C, Seibel H, Aerts J (2021) Scale cortisol is positively correlated to fin injuries in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) reared in commercial flow through systems. Aquacult 543:736924.

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