New 5-year dairy welfare strategy for UK milk producers

21-06-2023 | |
Six strategic goals have been set by dairy farmers, vets and industry professionals across the whole supply chain in the new UK Dairy Cattle Welfare Strategy, which runs until 2028. One goal includes: Thriving Cows – ensuring all dairy animals are bred, reared and cared for to thrive in all systems. Photo: Canva
Six strategic goals have been set by dairy farmers, vets and industry professionals across the whole supply chain in the new UK Dairy Cattle Welfare Strategy, which runs until 2028. One goal includes: Thriving Cows – ensuring all dairy animals are bred, reared and cared for to thrive in all systems. Photo: Canva

Dairy farmers, vets and industry professionals across the supply chain have established 6 strategic goals in the new UK Dairy Cattle Welfare Strategy, which runs until 2028.

Designed to help the industry show progress in animal welfare over the next 5 years, the strategy updates a previous one, but this time covers all 4 nations.

Coordinated by the organisation Ruminant Health and Welfare, the 6 goals are:

  1. Thriving cows – ensuring all dairy animals are bred, reared and cared for to thrive in all systems.
  2. Healthy feet – ensuring a proactive lameness management plan is in place on every dairy farm.
  3. Comfortable cows – maximising cow comfort in housing and at pasture.
  4. Appropriately nourished cows – ensuring a healthy body condition throughout the year.
  5. Healthy udders – continued improvements to udder health to reduce cases of mastitis.
  6. Positive welfare – moving towards providing an environment that allows animals to exhibit normal behaviours, such as curiosity or play.

Ruminant Health and Welfare vice-chair, Gwyn Jones, said the ability to provide evidence of progress will assist in maintaining the UK’s status as a global leader in dairy cattle welfare, helping the nation compete with international players.

Jones said research had shown that the public expected the delivery of good animal welfare and health: “The UK must ensure standards deliver excellent welfare, providing a solid platform for UK supply chains to build on in the future.”

Monitoring progress

Dr Jenny Gibbons, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) senior animal health and welfare scientist, said the organisation had committed to helping the industry publish an annual progress report. The report will capture data evidencing the outcomes achieved by the strategy’s stakeholders, showing the actions taken annually to achieve the 6 welfare goals.

To gather evidence of industry achievements and progress, Gibbons noted that these actions would be reported by key industry stakeholder groups, including farm assurance, farmers, supply chain (processing and retail), research organisations, vets and governments, working together.

Supporting organisations include supermarkets such as Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, while farm unions and processors include Glanbia, First Milk and Arla.

McDougal
Tony McDougal Freelance journalist
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