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Animal welfare measures in dairy farming

The current "Chart of the Month" from DLG-Agrifuture Insights shows the current status of planned and already implemented measures to improve animal welfare in dairy farming.

Consumers are placing increasing demands on all types of livestock farming. In particular, a higher level of animal welfare is required, which is reflected in criteria such as fresh air, plenty of (day)light and sufficient space.

Chart of the Month

Animal welfare measures in dairy farming

When asked about animal welfare measures already implemented or planned, 35% of the participating dairy farmers in the last survey of DLG-Agrifuture Insights stated that they intended to invest in technology to optimise the barn climate and implement corresponding measures. The barn climate also includes the possibility of cooling. In view of the increasing frequency and intensity of heat waves, the importance of measures to prevent heat stress is growing. Heat stress leads to health problems in dairy cows and therefore also to a drop in performance. 94% of the dairy farmers surveyed have already implemented measures in this area or are planning to do so. In addition, 64% of participants have already implemented increased space per animal.

Unfortunately, there is a lack of planning certainty and reliability on the part of politicians in this area, as well as in other animal welfare measures that involve larger investments. Just how difficult this currently is was also demonstrated by the discontinuation of the Borchert Commission's work in Germany in August 2023.

An animal welfare assessment based on animal observations using defined indicators in various areas, such as resting, locomotion or feed intake behaviour, has already been implemented by 45%. A further 34% are planning to do so. By subjecting behavioural characteristics to systematic analysis, weak points and errors can be identified, their causes found and targeted measures taken to improve them. DLG expert knowledge 381 "A focus on the animal - dairy cows" provides detailed explanations of the approach and a checklist.

DLG-Agrifuture Insights – a comprehensive view on agricultural development

DLG-Agrifuture Insights is the DLG knowledge brand and platform for international trend analyses in the agricultural sector. It examines the business environment in agriculture in Germany and worldwide. For this purpose, farmers and people from agribusiness, science and consulting are surveyed annually on their assessments of the economic situation and development of agricultural businesses, as well as technology trends and innovations in the individual business sectors. A total of 4,183 people took part in the current survey in winter 2022/23, around 1,500 of them from abroad.