PR - STATUS AND ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS OF ANIMAL WELFARE IN DAIRY FARMING
The issue of animal welfare continues to be the focus of attention. There are professional and emotional discussions from many sides. For agriculture, this poses enormous challenges for the future viability of modern animal husbandry. In dairy farming, the focus of the expert discussion should be on the relationship between animal welfare and profitability. Only 21% of the milk cows reach the phase of the highest lactation performance; i.e., a majority of the cows are culled earlier due to diseases, causing high costs. This study presents the first results from the project: “Animal welfare and economic efficiency in the future-oriented dairy farming - evaluation of various actions and their economic impact", using the example of four dairy farms. The analyses show weaknesses in animal welfare in all cases. The most serious deficiencies are in the barn floor and in the condition of the lying cubicles in the barns. This applies to three of the four farms under investigation. In addition, the study reveals that additional cow comfort, such as a paddock and functioning cow brushes, are rarely offered so far. This equipment was not found on any of the participating farms. The results of the cost analysis show that the animal welfare measures can cause a considerable additional cost of up to 10 cents per kg of milk. The investigations will be extended to a further 30 dairy farms in the remaining project term. The aim is to analyse the benefits of the measures concerning animal welfare and the lifetime production of the cows, as well as the marketing of the milk. At least a partial compensation of the rising production costs could be achieved.
Keywords: Animal welfare, dairy farming, agricultural economics, farm management, cost analysis, analysis of weaknesses