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Welfare Problems on French Dairies: An Epidemiological Approach

04 November 2014

French dairy farms are operating at an ‘acceptable’ level of welfare, a study encompassing 131 dairies has found.

A team of French researchers has tried to objectively assess the welfare standards of dairy farms with a view to assist stakeholders in ‘corrective actions’.

Using the Welfare Quality protocol, the farms were evaluated along a wide ranging set of criterion which could be analysed in three parts on the scale of 0 for a very adverse situation and 100 for excellent welfare.

Firstly, health, feeding and behaviour, averaged the lowest, ranging from 33 to 39.

Eight welfare criteria recorded scores below 50; ‘pain’, ‘integument alterations’, ‘diseases’, ‘comfort around resting’, ‘social behaviours’, ‘human animal relationship’, ‘positive emotional state’ and ‘hunger’.


  • Four others notched above the 50 mark – ‘thirst’, ‘lameness’, ‘expression’ of other behaviours, ease of movement.
  • Wide variation between and within farms and systems was noted.
  • Farms using cubicles obtained lower scores for ‘comfort around resting’ and ‘injuries’.
  • Holstein farms saw more hunger scores.
  • Automated Milking systems were rated lower for ‘expression of other behaviours’ and ‘diseases’ in Holstein herds.

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