Planning for better animal health and welfare in dairy herds (ANIPLAN)
The aim of this project is to minimise the use in organic dairy herds through animal health and welfare planning. This objective is met through the following intermediate objectives:
1) Develop animal health and welfare planning principles for organic dairy farms under diverse conditions based on an evaluation of current experiences.
2) Application of animal health and welfare assessment based on the WelfareQuality parameters in different types of organic dairy herds across Europe. This will result in an overview of the herds and allow for potential adaptations for the organic situation (e.g. pasture systems, longer cow/calf contact). For calves, a special system will be developed by the Norwegian partners, and combined and tested together with the WelfareQuality assessment system.
3) Develop guidelines for communication about animal health and welfare promotion in different settings. This can be part of existing animal health advisory services or farmer groups such as the Danish Stable School system and the Dutch network program.
Previous EU network project reports on organic farming have established that being certified organic does not necessarily equate to good animal health and welfare: lack of awareness and education can prevent proper implementation of the organic regulations. Farming conditions and traditions across Europe are also vastly different, so attempting to make plans too uniform would be restrictive and unsuccessful. ANIPLAN has aimed at working with farmers to ensure improved food quality and minimised risk for antibiotic resistance through non-medical means.
Selected main outccomes of ANIPLAN
Nine principles needed for an animal health and welfare planning process
An animal health and welfare planning process should include the following nine principles (P1-P9 below) to be implemented in many different ways depending on the local context and the involved actors:
P1: A health planning process should aim at continuous development and improvement, and should incorporate health promotion and disease handling, based on a strategy including
• current status + risks (animal based + resource based parameters)
P2: Farm specific
P3: Farmer ownership
P4: External person(s) should be involved
P5: External knowledge
P6: Organic principles framework (systems approach)
P8: Acknowledge good aspects
P9: Include all relevant people in the process
The development and testing of animal-based parameters were done across partner countries
Methodologies were unified, with training to ensure consistency and repeatability. The assessments in herds took 8-12 hrs per herd, depending on herd size and farm construction. Under practical conditions, parameters relevant for the specific farm must be selected to make it feasible for farmers and advisors.
Results were analysed and presented as a part of a PhD thesis. The thesis will be released and uploaded on Organic Eprints according to practice on Austrian research institutes, where it has to go through a certain process before it can become public.
Assessment system in Norway
An assessment system for use in the organic dairy calf herd was developed by the Norwegian partner. This was tested in Norway, and results were fed back to the farmer. The project period was too short to demonstrate the effects of the health promoting implementations following the health planning