Welfare concerns for dairy cows
Here are some of our main concerns about the welfare of dairy cows across all farming systems.
Lameness is widely regarded as one of the most urgent welfare issues affecting dairy cows because it's painful and affects a large number of cows. The term describes an animal having poor walking ability. Although levels vary from farm to farm, research suggests that between a quarter and a third of UK dairy cows are lame.
Mastitis is a disease in which the cow's udder becomes inflamed, usually as a result of a bacterial infection. It's one of the most common health problems affecting dairy cows.
Research suggests that over the course of a year, there will be around 40 - 60 cases of mastitis for every 100 cows in a herd.
The quality of the environment in which dairy cows are kept can have a big impact on their welfare. Lying comfort is very important, as cows need to lie down for prolonged periods to maintain their health and must have a comfortable area to be able to do so.
Transition cows and heifers
Dairy cows and heifers are more at risk of a range of health problems during the 'transition' period - the weeks before and after calving - due to changes in their immune system and energy levels. They need highly specialised management to ensure their welfare during this physically demanding time, with a particular focus on minimising stress, maximising cow comfort and good nutrition.