A welfare assessment system for dairy cows on grassland
Wolf, A. de
MetadataShow full item record
In Uruguay, and other countries with a warm climate, cows are held on pasture all year long. To score the welfare of the cows in countries like Uruguay it is necessary to convert the current system for cows in cubicles to a system for farmers who keep their cows all year long on pasture. During six weeks, 34 dairy cow farms in Uruguay with Holstein Friesian cows were studied in order to make a welfare scoring system for pasture-based dairy farms that is comparable with the barn-based cow comfort system from van Eerdenburg et al (6). The study was divided in seven phases. The first phases consisted of studying the life of cows in cubicles and on pasture. After that the barn-based scoring system was converted and new parameters were added to and deleted from the system. Subsequently is determined how to measure the parameters and points were assigned. In the last phase the scoring system is validated. The result is a scoring system with 86 parameters. These parameters are divided in 13 categories: general, milking parlour and waiting area, waiting area, milking parlour, exit milking parlour, water, feeding sites, walkways, loading site, pastures, farmer and staff, environmental management and animal health. The maximum score that can be obtained in both the barn-based and the pasture-based system is 500 points. In this way it possible to compare the scores between farms from both systems. The validation of the system showed that the scores that were produced agreed with the opinion of the experts. Both environmental and cow related parameters are included in the system. This paper mainly focuses on the cow related parameters. More research is required in order to improve and fine tune the scoring system and to find an answer to the question: are cows that live on pasture happier than cows that live in a barn?