ArticleVolume Number May 24, 2019

The IDF publishes the 2.0 version of its Guide to Good Animal Welfare in Dairy Production

La FIL publie son Guide 2.0 sur le bien-être des bovins laitiers

Last April, the International Dairy Federation (IDF) unveiled its 2.0 version of the Guide to Good Animal Welfare in Dairy Production.

There has been a significant evolution in dairy production since the previous edition was published in 2008. This guide has been technically supported by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (FAO).

What is the purpose of this international guide?

Bulletin IDF Guide

It provides the basis for the development of codes or programs to assess welfare in dairy production, such as the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle of the National Farm Animal Care Council of Canada.  It suggests areas of action, but also elements or behaviours to observe in order to assess on-farm animal well-being.




The five fields of action of the guide

Five key areas of action have been identified to ensure the effective management of the welfare of dairy cattle around the world:

  1. Animal handling
  2. Feed and water
  3. Housing/Environment
  4. On-farm practices
  5. Health management

Several basic principles are suggested to meet the requirements of each field of action. Here are some examples:

In terms of animal handling, people must foster a positive relationship with the animals so as not to cause them injury, panic, fear or avoidable stress. The manipulators must have the necessary knowledge.

Feed and water must be available in sufficient quality and quantity according to the age of the animals to enable normal health and productivity to be maintained and to prevent prolonged periods of hunger, thirst or malnutrition.

The housing or any place where animals move must be adapted for the species in order to minimize the risk of injury, pain and the risk of transmitting diseases or parasites to the animals.

Air quality, temperature and humidity must be adequate to keep animals healthy. Under extreme temperature conditions, animals should not be deprived of their natural thermoregulation method.

As for the physical environment, it must contain a comfortable lying surface, allow safe movements and normal postural changes.

Animals must have the opportunity to perform the natural behaviours they are used to doing or the motivation to do them.

Animals in groups must be managed so that they exhibit positive social behaviour and behaviours that will minimize the risk of injury, distress or chronic fear.

With regard to on-farm practices, genetic selection must always take into account animal health and welfare. Animals chosen to be in a new environment must be adapted to the climate and also able to adapt to the diseases, parasites and food of the new environment.

When painful procedures must be performed and cannot be avoided, the resulting pain must be relieved by one of the many methods available.

Health management must be ensured through the prevention of diseases and parasites and controlled by good management practices. Animals with serious diseases must be isolated and treated promptly or euthanized humanely if treatments are not feasible or ineffective.

What‘s new compared to the current Canadian guide?

Most of the requirements of this guide are already covered by the Canadian Code of Practice, with the exception of the following two :

  • An environment in which air quality, temperature and humidity help to keep animals healthy;
  • The possibility for animals to perform the natural behaviours they are used to doing or the motivation to do them.

How do you see these recommendations? Are they logical, reasonable, exaggerated, encouraging, threatening, discouraging...?   I look forward to reading your comments.