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Applied welfare issues in dairy cattle Management procedures – Dehorning – Tail docking – Weaning – Transportation – Hoof trimming – Re-grouping – Dietary changes ….. Diseases – Enteric disease – Lesions – Lameness – Mastitis – Respiratory disease …..
Effects of the welfare issues on the dairy cow
•Pain of the dairy cow Chronic pain Acute pain •Physiological stress •Disease •Behavior
Today many of the techniques utilized on factory farms were developed to make production more profitable However, these practices often cause discomfort, pain, and stress to animals
Welfare Issues in Dairy while inhibiting their natural, instinctual behaviors. Industry
Though industrial production practices may help “mechanize” the animals by decreasing interference with production, they ultimately create health problems in both animals and humans.
Calving Induction • Intramuscular injection • After stage of pregnancy confirmed • By a veterinarian • Mimics the calf’s ‘time to be born’ signal • Initiates calving process (~ 2 weeks later)
Welfare Issues in Dairy allowing the cow to re-enter the ‘milking’ herd at an earlier Industry time.
More likely to get in calf subsequently More likely to stay in the herd
The welfare of the mother cow is often compromised (particularly if greater than 3 weeks of expected gestation) as the procedure increases …. Dystokia (Assisted calving) Retained placenta (“RFM”) Photosensitisation (“photo”) Increased susceptibility to illness/death calf may be weak, requiring special care and attention. A veterinarian rarely attends the birth to monitor the health of cow and calf.
Calves are… Less mature Weaker Less coordinated
More common after induction Welfare issues – Health issues – Subsequent Reproductive performance
Photosensitization • More common in induced cows abnormal skin reactions in animals when exposed to direct sunlight are due to the accumulation of photosensitive compounds beneath the skin
Illness or Death
Decreased immunity Increased susceptibility to infections Death
Welfare issues: Calf Induced Calves are premature: Born alive but of reduced robustness Born alive but not viable Born dead
Cruel separation Mother cows, like most mammals have a strong maternal bond Calves are taken from their mothers within 12-24 hours of birth. When calves are removed mother cows will frantically bellow for the offspring that they will never see again. Separated calves appear frightened and bewildered. This separation causes enormous stress for both the cow and calf. New mothers are returned to the milking herd to maximize profits. The milk that nature destined for the calf is then processed for human consumption.
The Fate of the Calf
The fate of the calf
Around 1 million unwanted dairy calves, not wanted for herd replacement, are slaughtered each year as ‘waste-products’ of the dairy industry —usually at around the tender age of 5- 6 days old. Dairy calves are not valued as they don’t grow at the same rate as beef calves and their meat quality is considered sub-standard by the beef industry. As soon as calves reach their fifth day of life (after separation from their mothers they are fed a milk substitute) the calves are transported to abattoirs and sale yards. Calves are subjected to the stresses of unfamiliar sights and sounds and multiple and often rough handling as they are transported to calf scales, sale yards and slaughterhouses.
The strain of producing enormous amounts of milk
The natural lifespan of a cow is up to 20 years, yet few cows live beyond the age of seven years, and many younger animals go to slaughter. Selective breeding, and more recently genetic manipulation, has resulted in the selection and production of cows which produce enormous amounts of milk. The modern dairy cow can produce about 3550 liters of milk per day—about ten times more milk than her calf would need
Producing large quantities of milk puts a significant metabolic strain on the animal. The great weight of the udders often causes painful stretching or tearing of ligaments and frequently causes foot problems, such as laminitis. These foot problems can be associated with significant pain. Dairy cattle are also susceptible to infections of the teat and udder (mastitis) - this can be very painful.
Machine Milking The milking machine itself may render the cow more susceptible to infection. The front teats may be subjected to vacuum pulsing for up to two minutes after the quarter has been emptied and while the hind teats are still yielding. This is believed to be painful for the cow, and may also weaken tissue. The nature of the vacuum milking process is known to increase the possibility of infection.
The docking of cows' tails
Tail docking involves removing up to two-thirds of the tail Generally at 12-18 months of age Methods – Tight rubber ring – Sharp knife – Heated docking iron
Beliefs about benefits of tail docking Comfort of the milker Results in quicker milking Reduces obstruction of the udder Reduces risk of leptospirosis Reduces risk of mastitis Improved milk quality Cleaner udders Reduces fly numbers
Effects of tail docking on cow welfare
Acute pain of procedure – No anesthetics are used – Rubber rings may be less painful than a sharp knife Chronic pain after procedure – Inflammation and lesions – Neuromas causing chronic pain Reduced ability to get rid of flies – Increase in other fly avoidance behavior – Higher fly counts on hind quarters
Lameness of the Cow
Lameness in dairy cows Causes of lameness Wet weather Walking long distances Standing on concrete Nutrition, high energy rations Conformation defects The incidence of lameness varies with season and between years, more pronounced during wet weather
Importance of early detection of lameness Pain caused by lameness affects welfare of the cow Increase in laying down Reduced feed intake, weight loss Reduced milk production, up to 10% for each lame cow Reduced fertility, interval calving to conception up to 40 days longer in lame cows Lameness affects Stress response Milking order Return to pasture Grazing time Lying down
Mastitis Mastitis is an inflammatory reaction of udder tissue Causes: – Bacterial infection (Streptococcus uberis) – Physical injury Symptoms of mastitis Inflammation of the udder, resulting in swelling, heat, redness and pain Changes in composition and appearance of milk Reduced milk yield Effect of mastitis on cow welfare Very painful, even in mild cases Hyperalgesia, increase respiratory and heart rate, elevated temperature, altered stance Analgesics should be considered
De ho rn in g an d Di
Dehorning of cows, disbudding of calves Heifer (female) calves being raised to enter the milking herd will usually undergo ‘disbudding’ at an early age (less than 6 months of age). This is usually done by applying heat cauterization to the horn buds, or by using a knife or scoop tool to remove all the horn growth tissues in the horn bud. Currently this painful procedure is done without analgesia or sedation Older dairy cattle may be ‘dehorned’—a painful and distressing procedure that also carries a higher risk of infection and even blowfly infestation in some regions. The Code of Practice recommends dehorning without analgesia should not occur in cattle over 6 months of age—but this routinely occurs Researchers have shown that dehorning adult cattle has ‘severe adverse effects on welfare’. Pain relief is not routinely used because it would add to costs and time to conduct the procedure.
Downer Cows A downer cow is a live cow that cannot walk. This state can be caused by disease or injury. In nearly all cases it is considered by most farmers to be both humane and cost-effective to slaughter the animal when it becomes a downer, rather than keeping it alive and unhealthy. A "splitter" cow is a live beef or dairy animal that the hindquarters have done the complete splits and looks spraddle legged upon initial viewing. The cattle that go down that are able to still sit somewhat up on their briskets have a better chance of recovery than the cattle that are laid out on their side. Recovery is a study in patience. There are many possible reasons for a cow staying down, including: Mastitis Hypomagnesaemia Hypocalcaemia Ketosis Dystocia Nerve Damage Pelvic Fracture Long bone fracture Neurological disease
Branding (“hot” and “cold”): In hot or “fire” branding an iron is used to burn a mark onto the body of an animal for identification purposes. In cold or “freeze” branding liquid nitrogen is used to alter the growth of hair in the brand area. Both forms, which are typically performed on cattle, especially in western states where cattle graze on the range, are known to cause pain and distress in animals.
Reasons for Failure to Provide Pain Relief.
Attitudes towards pain in animals; Tradition; Failure to recognize pain; Failure to recognize the importance of the adverse effects of pain; Concern about removing possible protective effects of pain [this concern is generally excessive]; Concern that providing pain relief may itself stress the animal and have a negative impact on it; Concern that treating pain may interfere with diagnosis; Lack of information about analgesics; Concern about toxicity and side-effects of analgesics; Concerns about the safety and legislative controls associated with some analgesics such as opiates; Economic and practical considerations
The quality of floors, in terms of shape, hardness, friction and hygiene is of great importance for the health of cow feet and legs. Large groups that spend a long time in a waiting area, more frequent milking, long feeding time and long walking distances on concrete floors can be contributing factors for excessive wear and overburdening of the hooves. All walking surfaces should be slip-resistant. This reduces injuries and increases mobility to feed, water and resting areas. It also encourages oestrus activity. If you notice cows walking very slowly or timidly with rear feet spread wide, it could be a sign of poor traction.
• The dairy industry housing system for dairy cattle ranging from highly extensive, • Very traditional pasture system or tie-stall housing to freestall housing. • Positive and negative features are relevant to welfare with all systems,but some seem more problematic than others. • Many dairy cattle are kept in dry-lot conditions,in outdoor dirt pens in groups. • The cow can express her social nature and can exercise. • The problems with dry lots are similar to problems with feed lots, lack of shade, lack of shelter, from wind and snow, poor drainage and general lack of protection from climatic extremes.
• Some Farmers do provide shade and cooling with sprinklers. • Cattle withstand cold stress better than heat stress. • Free stalls have gained in popularity. • The cows can be in their own bedded stalls and move freely into concrete or earth yards where they receive food and water. • Poor flooring in these systems can lead to foot and leg problems. • Given a choice, dairy cattle prefer other flooring over concrete. • Flooring that reduces slippage and injury and into more effective sanitizing systems for waste removal. • Poor hygiene in the stalls can also cause mastitis and is an issue that should be addressed.
• To allow for grazing on pasture ,they will spend eight to ten hours a day doing. • The grazing season is limited. • Pasture may not supply the consistent quality and quantity of nutrients required by high-producing cow. • Other problems include shade,heat,water, insects ,blot and energy wasted in movement. • Many farmers believe that cattle prefer pasture to other feedstuffs, • Housing and management systems that respect the cow’s physical and behavioral nature. • While encouraging productivity and health needs to be carried out for the dairy industry.
The Human Environment
• Cattle are creatures of habit , and disruption of habits can be highly stressful. • Introduction into a new environment is more stressful for cattle than electric shock. • Good stockman respect this aspect of cow handling. • A good livestock manager can detect deviations from habitual behavior that indicate environmental,feeding or disease problems. • Cow handling and facilities design based on knowledge of cow behavior is also warranted.
•To develop animal- friendly handling systems. Ex:- She has shown that solid-sided chutes work better than open-sided ones, that uniform illumination (rather than patterns of light, shadow and darkness) prevents balking, and that floor surface affects ease of movement ,yet many farmers not incorporated these insights into their facilities.
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