Welfare Challenges of Dairy Cows in India Identified Through On-Farm Observations

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Mullan, S., Bunglaven, S. J., Rowe, E., Barrett, D. C., Lee, M. R. F., Ananth, D. and Tarlton, J. 2020. Welfare Challenges of Dairy Cows in India Identified Through On-Farm Observations. Animals. 10 (586), pp. 1-13. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10040586

AuthorsMullan, S., Bunglaven, S. J., Rowe, E., Barrett, D. C., Lee, M. R. F., Ananth, D. and Tarlton, J.
Abstract

India has the largest population of dairy cattle in the world at over 48 million animals, yet there has been little formal assessment of their welfare reported. Through observations of dairy cows on 38 farms in Kerala, India, we aimed to investigate the welfare of these animals and the practicality of animal-based assessments within common farming systems. Substantial welfare challenges were identified. All cows were close-tied (less than 1 m length) via a halter that pierced the nasal septum when housed, which was for the entire day (50% of farms) or part thereof. When outside access was available, it was also usually restricted by close-tying, longline tether, or hobbling. Ad libitum water was only available on 22% of farms and food access was also restricted (mean of 4.3 hrs/day). Future work should focus on encouraging dairy farmers in India to improve the welfare of their dairy cattle by ceasing to tie and tether cattle or at least providing tied and tethered cattle with exercise opportunities, unlimited access to drinking water and a readier supply of food (especially quality green forage/fodder); clean housing more frequently; provide strategies to prevent heat stress; breed cattle suited to environmental conditions and with increased resistance to heat stress; carry out welfare assessments more regularly using a validated protocol; rectify the causes of poor welfare. Such changes could substantially improve the welfare of tens of millions of cattle.

KeywordsAnimal welfare; Dairy cow; India
Year of Publication2020
JournalAnimals
Journal citation10 (586), pp. 1-13
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10040586
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeIndia Partnering Award
Publisher's version
Accepted author manuscript
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online31 Mar 2020
Publication process dates
Accepted25 Mar 2020
PublisherMDPI
ISSN2076-2615

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