EFSA publishes report on dairy cow welfare. It considered housing systems, welfare consequences & specific hazards related to farm characteristics. There are different housing systems across EU member states: cubicle housing is the most prevalent, followed by open bedded systems and tie stalls. When considering the welfare consequences, tie stall, especially when cows are permanently tethered are associated with impaired welfare e.g. due to the severe restriction on movement and physical comfort. It notes that access to pasture has declined in past 10 years.
As part of their investigation, EFSA conducted an expert knowledge elicitation exercise, which helped to identify specific hazards related to farm characteristics. Experts recommend an animal welfare assessment if 1 or more of the following hazards are present on-farm:
- More cows than cubicles
- Limited total indoor space (<7m sq/cow)
- Cubicle dimensions inappropriate for cow size
- High annual mortality (>8%)
- Cows have <2 months access to pasture
To read the full report, go to: https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/7993