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Dairy Welfare Progress Continues

22 November 2012

UK - The Dairy Cow Welfare Strategy’s second annual report, which measures progress against targets covering a range of management areas from breeding, feeding and health, has concluded that cow welfare is improving.

“Two years on and we are pleased to report that the dairy sector is certainly taking welfare seriously. The robust self imposed targets which have accompanied each of 10 priority target areas have ensured that there would be no hiding from areas where we were not achieving, and the results to date certainly reflect the progress made,” comments Tim Brigstocke, chairman of the Cattle Health and Welfare Group (CHAWG) which has taken responsibility for coordinating and delivering the strategy, including the annual report.

Areas on target include mastitis where the DairyCo Mastitis Control Plan, now adopted by 970 farms, is demonstrating reductions of up to 20 per cent in mastitis incidence.

Lameness, another key area is also on target – over 140 farms covering more than 37,000 cows have been registered on the Healthy Feet Programme, DairyCo’s mobility score has been developed and is now accepted as industry standard, and an accompanying team of mentors has been introduced including vets and an increasing number of category I foot trimmers.

Progress within the area of breeding has been achieved with all farmers now aware of bull proofs, while the strategy is on target to deliver wider information on welfare to farmers themselves from PR protocols to focused farm walks.

Work currently in progress and meeting with targets includes improving on-farm recording and use of accompanying data, along with routine use of body condition scoring, while a campaign designed to improve the understanding of fertility issues is ready to roll out.

“While British dairy farmers are noted for achieving high welfare standards, this strategy is delivering what it originally set out to deliver, primarily in response to the Farm Animal Welfare Council’s suggestions for further improvements,” says Mr Brigstocke.

“The Dairy Cow Welfare Strategy, which is supported by 10 industry organisations, is also providing an evidence base to enable the industry to develop proactive strategies delivering positive messages, co-ordinate industry activity, identify gaps in current knowledge and take action to address them.” He adds: “Following a review of the strategy’s progress which will involve independent experts, CHAWG will revise the current strategy and in 2013 introduce appropriate new targets to ensure continued, relevant momentum against the stated timescales.”

Click for the Dairy Cow Strategy Document

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