Posted by: Mahdi Ebrahimi | October 21, 2007

Dairy cattle have less problem for lameness when reared organically

 

A Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) study has shown that the incidence of lameness is lower on organic dairy farms compared to non-organic farms.
The lower incidence was associated with longer periods that the cows spent at grass and the higher age at which they first calve. The levels of hock lesions were also lower on organic farms.
The three-year study, sponsored by Defra at a cost of £300,000, compared 40 organic farms and 40 non-organic farms across Great Britain and assessed lameness, mastitis, ketosis, somatic cell counts, fertility and cow behavior. Other than foot and leg health, there was little difference between the health and welfare of Holstein Friesian dairy cows on organic and non-organic dairy farms.
Organic farms have restrictions on the use of veterinary medicines and use of concentrate feed, but this does not appear to affect most aspects of health and welfare in the cows.
There was more competition for fresh feed among cows on organic farms with open feed-faces, indicating that they may be hungrier. However, there was no other evidence that organic cows might be nutritionally compromised, as there were no differences between organic and non-organic farms in the levels of ketosis or in cow body condition.
Farmers on the organic farms reported treating fewer cases of mastitis, but they also reported that they would often wait to see if a case would resolve itself rather than treating immediately, which was the most common practice on the non-organic farms.
The study also compared levels of somatic cell count, calving interval, cow cleanliness, internal parasites and behavior, but few differences were found.
RELATED LINKS: http://www.theherald.co.uk
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