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Farmer groups for animal health and welfare planning in European organic dairy herds

By Mette Vaarst, Elisabeth Gratzer, Michael Walkenhorst, Silvia Ivemeyer, Jan Brinkmann, Solveig March, Lindsay K. Whistance, Gidi Smolders, Elisabeth Stöger, Johann Huber, Christine Leeb, Stephen Roderick, Christoph Winckler, Britt I.F. Henriksen, Pip Nicholas, Berit Hansen and Cecilie M. Mejdell


A set of common principles for active animal health and welfare planning in organic dairy farming has been developed in the ANIPLAN project group of seven European countries. Health and welfare planning is a farmer‐owned process of continuous development and improvement and may be practised in many different ways. It should incorporate health promotion and disease handling, based on a strategy where assessment of current status and risks forms the basis for evaluation, action and review. Besides this, it should be 1) farm-specific, 2) involve external person(s) and 3) external knowledge, 4) be based on organic principles, 5) be written, and 6) acknowledge good aspects in addition to targeting the problem areas in order to stimulate the learning process. Establishing farmer groups seems to be a beneficial way of stimulating a dynamic development on the farms towards continuous improvement, as in this case with focus on animal health and welfare planning. Various factors influence the process in different contexts, e.g. geographical, cultural, traditional factors, and a proper analysis of the situation as well as the purpose of the group is necessary, and can relevantly be negotiated and co‐developed with farmers as well as facilitators before being implemented. Farmer groups based on farmer‐to‐farmer advice and co‐development need a facilitator who takes on the role of facilitating the process and ‘decodes’ him‐ or herself from being ‘expert’

Topics: Dairy cattle, Health and welfare
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Organic Eprints

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