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Welfare Assessment of Dairy Cows in Small Farms in Bangladesh

Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Gatton 4343, Australia
Department of Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh 2202, Bangladesh
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(3), 394;
Received: 10 February 2020 / Revised: 26 February 2020 / Accepted: 26 February 2020 / Published: 28 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
Welfare assessment is common in large, intensive dairy farms in the developed world, but has been little explored in small dairy farms in developing countries. We utilized and modified parts of an assessment protocol used for large farms to survey hunger, injuries, and disease as important components of the welfare of dairy cows in 70 small farms in Bangladesh. The incidence of body lesions was relatively high, but few cows were lame, compared with most surveys of intensive dairy farms in developed countries. Cows with common dairy diseases were thinner and produced less milk. Few farmers understood the concept of animal welfare and most did not vaccinate their cows against common diseases. We conclude that there were some similar problems in the Bangladeshi farms to those observed in large, intensive dairy farms, but also some differences. We suggest that it would be beneficial to improve the floors, bedding, and health status of cows, which would both increase their productivity and welfare.
Protocols for assessing the welfare of dairy cows in large scale intensive dairy systems in the developed world have been used extensively. Little attention has been paid to the use of similar welfare assessment protocols for small dairy enterprises in developing countries. We modified part of the standard assessment protocol and used it to assess aspects of the welfare of dairy cows in a field survey of 70 small farms in the Sirajgonj district of Bangladesh. Welfare indicators selected were mainly those of health and economic importance, such as lameness, lesions on the body and limbs, cleanliness levels, milk yield, and body condition. The study included physical examination of 700 cows and use of a structured questionnaire to collect data on health and management practices and farmers’ perspectives about animal welfare. Mean milk yield, averaged across farms, was 10.3 L/d (range 6.3–14.2) and body condition assessment indicated that cows were, on average, thin. Hygiene management was often poor, with soiling of body parts with faeces. The prevalence of lameness, at 4.3%, was less than has commonly been observed in larger, more intensive dairy farms, but body injuries were commonly detected at the carpal and hock joints (56 and 51% of cows, respectively). This suggests that floors and/or bedding to lie on were inadequate. Many farmers did not follow routine vaccination and deworming schedules (63% and 31%, respectively) and farmers were not generally aware of the concept of animal welfare. The study demonstrates some similar welfare issues to those that have been commonly identified in large, intensive units, but also some differences, in particular a failure to provide good floors, bedding, and basic health care. View Full-Text
Keywords: body condition score; milk yield; welfare assessment; dairy cow; Bangladesh body condition score; milk yield; welfare assessment; dairy cow; Bangladesh
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MDPI and ACS Style

Islam, M.A.; Sharma, A.; Ahsan, S.; Mazumdar, S.; Rudra, K.C.; Phillips, C.J.C. Welfare Assessment of Dairy Cows in Small Farms in Bangladesh. Animals 2020, 10, 394.

AMA Style

Islam MA, Sharma A, Ahsan S, Mazumdar S, Rudra KC, Phillips CJC. Welfare Assessment of Dairy Cows in Small Farms in Bangladesh. Animals. 2020; 10(3):394.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Islam, M. A., Arvind Sharma, S. Ahsan, S. Mazumdar, K.C Rudra, and Clive J.C. Phillips 2020. "Welfare Assessment of Dairy Cows in Small Farms in Bangladesh" Animals 10, no. 3: 394.

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