Improving cow health and welfare under organic principles

The organic principles of health, fairness, ecology and care call for a unique way of viewing and handling animals: to create a framework and a system in which they can meet their natural needs, and at the same time intervene to avoid animal suffering.

The aim of building synergies in multi-functional and resilient agricultural systems in harmony with their surrounding environment and social-human systems can guide us to organise the farming systems to support the health and welfare of animals, and let these animals be valuable resources within the farming system. In the SOLID project, six farmer participatory studies related to animal health and welfare promotion in organic and/or low-input dairy herds, were conducted in Denmark and the UK.

They showed widely different approaches to improving dairy cow and calf welfare through the use of herbs in grass fields, leaving dairy calves with their mothers, and goal-directed efforts in farmer groups to reduce antibiotic use, among others in so-called Farmer Field Labs, where discussion took place and mutual advice exchanged. The diverse collection of studies demonstrated the widely different needs and interests of farmers, as well as widely different perspectives on animal health promotion and disease prevention.


Theme: animal husbandry
Published: 26th January 2016
Author: Mette Vaarst