5th Well-Being Forum Looks at Welfare at Culling

GLOBAL - Last week, Boehringer Ingelheim held their 5th Farm-Animal Well-Being forum in Lisbon, Portugal. The meeting brought together around 100 experts from across the world. The first part of the meeting looked at whether the culling of farm animals is a welfare issue.
calendar icon 7 June 2012
clock icon 2 minute read
Boehringer Ingelheim - Farm Animal Well-Being

Dr Suzanne Millman from Iowa State University in the US, said that the topics of culling, euthanasia and mortality are becoming increasingly important to veterinarians and producers due to public scrutiny.

Dr Millman looked at the decision to kill on farm, and what assessment and factors farmers and veterinarians would consider prior to making the decision to either help the animal recover, carry out on farm euthanasia or transport to emergency slaughter.

Finally, Dr Millman touched upon the issue of culling low value but healthy animals, and in particular mentioned the fate of the dairy bull calf.

Karen Lancaster from the dairy levy board in the UK, Dairy Co, looked at herd replacement costs, and said that in reality this cost came second only to feed and forage costs.

Ms Lancaster said that a high herd replacement rate is a costly problems in terms of both finance and animal welfare, which is often not recognised on farm.

Looking at research carried out in the UK, Ms Lancaster said that the majority of culls were involuntary, meaning that producer did not choose to cull the cow for production reasons, but had to due to health or fertility issues.

To reduce herd replacements rates, Ms Lancaster said that a greater emphasis on herd health and heifer rearing is needed, to reduce involuntary culls due to disease and fertility and produce a well grown, healthy heifer.

Dr Fritha Langford from the Scottish Agricultural College looked at the trade-off between profits and cow welfare when culling cows.

Her research highlighted that on-farm culls were one of the most costly in terms of profits and welfare.

Dr Langford said that by improving the welfare of cows, through improved herd health management, the longevity of the herd increases as does the milk yield and the farmers choice for herd improvement, all of which will result in better financial returns.

Following on from the three presentations, a discussion took place among participants about the public perception of agriculture and the need to educate the consumer. The welfare of the dairy bull calf was also a much talked about topic.

Boehringer Ingelheim's Expert Forum on Farm Animal Well-Being has become a recognised discussion platform which facilitates communication and transfer of knowledge between veterinarians and animal scientists.

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Boehringer Ingelheim - Farm Animal Well-Being
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