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DCWC Webinar: Cow welfare in Irish pasture based systems of milk production
The reality of modern dairying, in which the majority of cows are indoors all year is in stark contrast to what the consumer wants, which is that cows are kept outdoors. However, pasture-based systems (PBS), like confinement systems, are undergoing intensification and are not without welfare challenges. In PBS where cows are housed during the winter, they are generally kept in cubicles or freestalls. Hence, these are ‘hybrid systems’ in which cows are exposed to risks to welfare associated with both housing and pasture. Particular risks to welfare come from grass as the primary nutrient source, either grazed in situ or fed as silage during the winter, the lack of focus on winter housing, walking related factors (e.g. walking distance) and the weather. Importantly while there are considerable problems for cow welfare associated with high levels of milk production, lower milk production in PBS does not necessarily reflect good cow welfare. Nevertheless, the growing focus on ensuring that animals have lives worth living, means that dairy cows should garner some positive emotions from their lives, and it seems clear that pasture access is essential for this.

Dec 15, 2022 04:00 PM in Central Time (US and Canada)

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Laura Boyle
Senior Research Officer @Teagasc
Dr. Laura Boyle M.Agr.Sc., Ph.D., is a senior research officer at Teagasc with over 25 years of research expertise in farm animal behavior and welfare science. She is an associate member of the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioral Medicine, President of the European Federation of Animal Science Health and Welfare Commission, and Editor in Chief of the Animal Behavior and Welfare section in Frontiers in Veterinary Science. She is Adjunct Professor at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin. As well as informing national policy she was an expert with the European Food Safety Authority (2020 to 2022). Dr. Boyle published almost 130 peer-reviewed papers and over 300 scientific abstracts in conference proceedings. Her main interests are the link between animal health and welfare and in the impact of animal welfare on agricultural sustainability. Laura has education and advisory roles within the Teagasc pig development department at Moorepark where she works