Use of animal based measures for the assessment of dairy cow welfare

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal
    The objective of this study is to identify relevant animal-based welfare measures (ABMs), preferably already measured in the field, and map how each of them contributes to measuring the main welfare problems that occur in dairy cows. Furthermore these ABMs are assessed based on their respective performance and a set of ABMs, to be collated into one dataset with the aim of measuring dairy cattle welfare on-farm, is proposed. This is important because the data can then be compared between ABMs, countries, regions and production systems, to support the transmission of the data to EFSA. Finally, a pilot project is carried out to collate and submit the data via the EFSA Data Collection Framework (DCF) platform.

    Research approach
    Each partner is responsible for a specific objective. ILVO is responsible for the collating of data and entering this into the DCF platform. The practical work starts with identifying the major welfare problems in dairy cattle, in terms of prevalence and impact. Thereafter the ABMs that measure these problems can be identified. A set of ABMs are selected based on their ability to be validated including specificity, reproducibility and repeatability. Data models are developed to test the ability to compare the ABM amongst themselves and throughout the countries, regions and production systems. ILVO leads the pilot test to collate and submit the data of the proposed set of ABM’s in the DCF platform.

    Animal-based measures have gradually been introduced into EU animal welfare legislation with the directive on chickens kept for meat production (Council Directive 2007/43/EC1) and the Regulation on the killing of animals (Council Regulation EC No 1099/20092). The EU Strategy for the protection and welfare of animals (2012-20153) envisages a new EU legislative framework for animal welfare including the use of scientifically validated animal welfare outcome-based indicators to complement prescriptive requirements. With this project the current status regarding the routine collection of ABMs across EU will be mapped. The validity and practical usefulness of several ABMs will be significantly enhanced. Additionally, new relevant ABMs that are currently not being collected will be identified.

    External partner(s)
    Istituto Zooprofalittico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell'Emilia Romagna "Bruno Ubertini"
    Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell' Abruzzo e del Molise "G. Caporale"
    Kobenhavns Universitet
    National Institute for Agronomic Research
    Swedish Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering
    Effective start/end date1/01/1330/06/14