Animal welfare is a topic that is becoming increasingly important to farmers, consumers and retailers. Sound assessment of welfare on dairy farms requires measures taken on the cows that reliably reflect the different aspects of animal welfare.
In order to explore the topic further, IDF and ICAR will co-host a workshop at the upcoming ICAR – INTERBULL CONFERENCE in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. The workshop will promote synergies and joint use of animal-based welfare indicators and explore how could harmonization of such parameters increase reliability and transparency. Research in recent years has suggested several indicators that can be used to assess welfare.
The implementation of suitable welfare indicators is spreading across the world, and it involves research institutes and universities, breeding organizations, and retailers using animal welfare to differentiate their product. The workshop will present background information on the need for animal welfare assessments, the implementation of welfare assessment protocols to assess animal welfare on farms, and the potential sources and synergies in uses of the information, building on the IDF Guide to Good Animal Welfare in Dairy Production 2.0. Examples of how harmonization of indicators has been achieved will also be presented.
IDF Chair of the Standing Committee of Animal Health and Welfare, Dr Olav Østerås said: “The dairy sector is committed to implementing best practices to ensure animal welfare based on scientific evidence and reference standards. Preferentially, direct measures, the responses of the animal to the dairy production system, should be used to assess and monitor welfare. ICAR and IDF are uniquely placed to host this workshop and increase the know-how of assessments in the field of dairy animal welfare. This workshop will be of great interest to a range of stakeholders in the dairy sector”.
Presentations will cover animal welfare recording initiatives, focusing on animal-based indicators from different countries. The workshop will conclude with a World Café where representatives of different stakeholders involved in welfare recording and use of welfare indicators will be invited to express their views on further steps to be taken toward harmonization of animal welfare indicators worldwide.
In addition, the workshop will present the DISARM thematic network (Disseminating Innovative Solutions for Antibiotic Resistance Management), an EU initiative focused on communicating best practice cases on animal health and welfare to reduce the need for antimicrobials in livestock farming.
The workshop is free to attend for IDF members, but places are limited. Contact María Sánchez Mainar to check availability and compliance with registration conditions.