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Housing and Management Affect Welfare

29 May 2012

EU - Housing and management are the two main factors that affect animal welfare for beef production and of calves in intensive farming systems., according to a scientific opinion by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW).

Beef cattle

Respiratory disease from overstocking, inadequate ventilation and mixing of animals was identified as a potential welfare problem in beef cattle.

The study also looked at how cattle fed intensively high grain and concentrate rations, with a lack of physically effective fibre in the diet, are at high risk of digestive disorders, especially sub-acute ruminal acidosis (SARA).

Cattle that experience repeated episodes of SARA are at risk of rumen parakeratosis, liver abscesses and laminitis.

Behavioural disorders were another welfare problem identified, linked to inadequate floor space, co-mingling in the feedlot and intensive concentrates.

Calves

The main welfare problems for intensively reared calves attributable to risks associated with housing and management were iron deficiency anaemia, digestive and respiratory disorders and discomfort and disturbed resting behaviour.

The iron deficiency anaemia is a direct consequence of dietary iron restriction used to produce white meat.

Digestive and respiratory disorders are linked to high intakes of liquid feed and inadequate intake of physially effective fibre, and cross-infection resulting from mixing of calves from multiple sources.

Inadequate floors and floor space similarly affected behaviour.

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

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