The International Dairy Federation is tackling the important issue of improving animal welfare while maintaining profitable milk production.

“Our approach is focused in two areas, mastitis and lameness in dairy cattle,” IDF Director General Christian Robert said. “Earlier this year, we organized a major International Conference on Mastitis in Maastricht, the Netherlands. It was attended by more than 500 practising veterinarians from around the world. Lameness in dairy cows, one of the most frequent and painful diseases experienced by dairy cattle, will be a major part of the upcoming Animal Health Conference at the IDF World Dairy Summit and Congress from 20 to 23 October 2006 in Shanghai, China.“

Consumers are looking for a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating. They demand high quality produce and are increasingly concerned about good animal welfare. IDF is thus taking a pro-active approach to ensure a high standard of animal welfare.

Risk factors for lameness include genetics, feeding, housing facilities, and management. Improved floor quality and management are crucial for healthy claws. Breeding programmes are being developed and IDF seeks to implement them worldwide. Cow comfort, cow traffic and animal behaviour influence the exposure of the claws to the floor, and improvement of these factors together with maintenance foot trimming are required for improving animal care.

Torkel Ekman, Veterinarian, PhD, and leader of the IDF work on lameness said: “It is imperative the dairy industry faces up to the challenge of dealing with changing consumer attitudes towards animal welfare.“

  “Using the expertise of the IDF experts network, we hope to ensure positive consumer perception of milk production taking into account high ethical considerations for the care and handling of dairy cattle.” said the IDF Director General.

The International Dairy Federation News release