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Welfare state of dairy cows in three European low-input and organic systems

Kirchner, Marlene Katharina (2014) Welfare state of dairy cows in three European low-input and organic systems. In: Rahmann, G. and Aksoy, U. (Eds.) Building Organic Bridges, Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut, Braunschweig, Germany, 1, Thuenen Report, no. 20, pp. 33-36.

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Summary

Low-input and organic dairy systems are known to be managed differently than intensive and conventional production units. Especially pasture-based systems are perceived as more animal friendly, but only limited information is available on the welfare of dairy cows in low-input systems. In recent years, comprehensive, mostly animal-based on-farm welfare assessment systems have been developed. For example, the Welfare Quality® (WQ) assessment protocol combines a range of animal-based measures and information on management and resources. Ten low-input and/or organic dairy farms each in Northern Ireland (NI), Romania (RO) and Spain (SP) were assessed in the late winter and early spring of 2013 using the WQ assessment system. Scores for twelve WQ criteria and four WQ principles were calculated from the measures according to the WQ protocol. They may range from 0-100 (poor-good, with a score of 50 indicating a somewhat ‘neutral’ situation). For the identification of welfare problems, we applied a threshold of 40. In five out of the 12 criteria the average score was below 40 in at least one country; at the principle level this was the case for 2 principles. The average principle scores for 'Good Housing' all exceeded the threshold of 40, but the criterion ‘Comfort around resting’ (referring to lying down movement and cleanliness of the animals) scored lowest in NI. The principle ‘Good Health’ scored rather low in all production systems, but especially in farms in Spain. In all countries, the threshold was exceeded for the ‘Appropriate behaviour’ principle. In conclusion, across the production systems investigated the presence of injuries in the cows may be regarded a general welfare problem. Furthermore, ‘Comfort around resting’ and ‘Absence of pain induced by management procedures’ were identified as unsatisfactory in at least two countries. ‘Thermal comfort’, ‘Ease of movement’, ‘Absence of disease’ as well as most of the criteria related to ‘Appropriate behaviour’ may be considered at least acceptable.


EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Subjects:"Organics" in general
Animal husbandry > Feeding and growth
Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > European Union
Research affiliation: International Conferences > 2014: 18th IFOAM OWC Scientific Track: 4th ISOFAR Scientific Conference
H2020 or FP7 Grant Agreement Number:266367
ISBN:978-3-86576-128-6
DOI:10.3220/REP_20_1_2014
Deposited By: Kirchner, Dr. Marlene
ID Code:23784
Deposited On:28 Oct 2014 10:58
Last Modified:28 Oct 2014 10:58
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted
Additional Publishing Information:urn:nbn:de:gbv:253-201407-dn053621-1

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