Improving the welfare of dairy cattle through sensible husbandry

Dr Andres Ardila (view profile)

Increased public awareness and concerns about the welfare of production animals in intensive farming systems is one of the most important challenges for the dairy cattle industry around the world. Within these concerns there are two streams of particular importance: (1) the management of “bobby calves” (surplus bull calves and heifer calves) and (2) the management of pain associated with husbandry procedures (disbudding, dehorning) and with disease processes (mastitis, lameness).

The Australian dairy industry have responded to these concerns by using advanced reproductive technologies such as sexed semen as well as by implementing changes to the way husbandry procedures are performed. Additionally, dairy farmers have a greater understanding of painful conditions in their animals which have in turn changed farmers’ attitudes towards pain management in sick animals.

It is noteworthy to mention the involvement of the Australian dairy industry national service body, Dairy Australia, in the provision of animal welfare resources as well as practical workshops for dairy farmers across the country. Such resources include comprehensive information on the new animal welfare standards and guidelines which farmers must follow as these are legal requirements endorsed by all states and territories.

This presentation will present an overview of the challenges and opportunities for the improvement of animal welfare of dairy cattle based on sensible husbandry approaches.