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A focus on the animal – dairy cows

DLG publishes Expert Knowledge Series pamphlet on animal-friendly husbandry in English – free download at www.dlg.org/dlg_expert_knowledge.html

(DLG). DLG (Deutsche Landwirtschafts-Gesellschaft – German Agricultural Society) has now published an English-language version of the pamphlet “A focus on the animal – dairy cows” (“Das Tier im Blick – Milchkühe”). This offers assistance with systematic monitoring of the behaviour and appearance characteristics of dairy cattle. These data help dairy farmers to recognise on the basis of animal-related indicators whether and how keeping methods and facilities as well as management can be optimized. Alongside behavioural characteristics of the function groups resting, movement, feed intake, reproduction, social relations, comfort and excretory behaviour, the pamphlet also looks at how to assess appearance and feeding checks in the period directly after calving.
 
The DLG Expert Knowledge Series pamphlet No. 381 “A focus on the animal – dairy cows” was put together by the DLG Committee for Animal Welfare and the DLG Committee for Milk and Beef Production under the leadership of Andreas Pelzer from the experimental and training Centre for Agriculture, Haus Düsse, of the Chamber of Agriculture of North Rhine-Westphalia, and Professor Otto Kaufmann from the Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. It can be downloaded free of charge from the internet at www.dlg.org/dlg_expert_knowledge.html.
 
The effects of the keeping method depend on a wide range of factors. The facilities in the animal housing play a crucial role here, for example the design and availability of water troughs, the quality of the lying and roaming surfaces, and the management of the feeding, climate control and treatment of the animals. One way of assessing the animal-friendliness of keeping conditions consists of countable or measurable quantitative features of the keeping environment, such as the number and dimensions of cubicles and feeding places. Furthermore, animal-related indicators such as outer appearance, the behaviour and the health of the animals are playing an ever more significant role in the recognition of weaknesses. The most important requirement for this is targeted observation. Using scientific methods it is possible to examine whether the animals can maintain their biological functions and display natural characteristic behaviour, or whether stress reactions, diseases or serious behavioural abnormalities and disorders occur. It can also be examined whether physiological or behavioural reactions point to negative sensations such as pain and frustration. In this way it is possible to identify the animal needs and any overstraining of their adaptability.
 
Contact:
DLG, Mr. Sven Häuser, Tel.: +49/(0)69/24788-325, E-mail: s.haeuser@dlg.org.
 

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Friedrich W. Rach

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International media and communications manager