DARCOF · Research > Darcof II > Health and welfare for organic calves

Health and welfare for organic calves

Animal welfare is an explicit goal for organic production. However, there is a strong need to combine an effort to obtain good animal welfare with the fundamental goals of organic agriculture. This project has three main themes: Animal welfare assessment, bovine coccidiosis (disease caused by parasites), and veterinary homeopathy. A number of workshops will be held during the project period. The intention is, that knowledge developed from this project, can be used in a wide spectrum of organic herds.

A main objective for the project is to form a framework for evaluation and assessment of animal welfare under organic production conditions. This will be done with help from a national and an international expert team. The assessment of animal welfare will cover the whole herd, but with particular emphasis on the calves.

Calves nil to six months of age are in focus. Main problems among calves in organic herds relate to group-housed calves and coccidiosis. Experimental designs in private herds, will be a main part of these activities. The main aims are to reduce inter-suckling behaviour, and to create optimised housing conditions, and this way, to control the disease coccidiosis.

There is a strong interest in alternative treatments, especially homeopathy, among Danish organic farmers. According to the new EU-regulations, homeopathy is a treatment method, which should be preferred to antibiotic treatments. There is a need for stimulating communication between the traditional bio-medical veterinary environment, and the farmers and veterinarians interest in homeopathy. Theoretical discussions with experts will be combined with practical clinical pilot studies.


Project title
II.4 Improvement of animal health and welfare in organic dairy production with special focus on the calves (HEWDAICA)

Project leader
Mette Vaarst, Senior scientist
Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Health and Welfare
P.O.Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele
Phone: +45 89 99 13 44, Fax: +45 89 99 15 00
E-mail: Mette.Vaarst@agrsci.dk

Project participants
Charlotte Maddox Christensen, Danish Veterinary Laboratory, Stig Milan Thamsborg and Torben W. Bennedsgaard, KVL
Klaus Lønne Ingvartsen, Ellen-Margrethe Vestergaard, Christine Fossing and Birthe Marie Damgaard, DIAS