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Article

A Results-Oriented Approach for the Animal Welfare Measure of the European Union’s Rural Development Programme

1
Thünen Institute of Farm Economics, Bundesallee 63, 38116 Braunschweig, Germany
2
Thünen Institute of Organic Farming, Trenthorst 32, 23847 Westerau, Germany
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: David S Beggs, Peter Mansell and Mandy Paterson
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1570; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061570
Received: 12 February 2021 / Revised: 4 May 2021 / Accepted: 19 May 2021 / Published: 27 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dairy Cow Health and Welfare)
So far, the animal welfare support measures of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy for dairy cows have been action-oriented. Farmers receive a payment for their welfare friendly housing system or management (inputs). As the actual animal welfare output is not considered, these support-measures can create good conditions for animal behaviour, but are not able to address animal health. This would be possible in a results-oriented support measure, where the payment is linked to the output (animal-based indicators). With the aim of making animal welfare support more effective, we therefore examined which indicators would be suitable for a results-oriented support measure and how such a measure would have to be designed to encompass all dimensions of animal welfare: animal health, behaviour and emotional state. In a multi-stage selection process involving scientists and practitioners, 10 indicators were identified as appropriate. Because these only cover animal health, a combined action- and results-oriented measure is recommended, in which the dimensions “behaviour” and “emotional state” are addressed via action-oriented requirements and the dimension “health” via results-oriented indicators. With the results of our research, we provide the knowledge base for policy makers and administrators to implement agricultural support policies which can effectively improve the welfare of dairy cows.
Farm animal welfare is a major concern to the European Union’s citizens, addressed in the Rural Development Programmes by a specific animal welfare support measure. Previous evaluation results reveal that the implemented action-oriented measures fail when it comes to improving animal health, an important dimension of animal welfare. Results-oriented measures could compensate for this deficiency, but little is known about their design. In order to improve the effectiveness of current animal welfare measures for dairy cows, we analysed the elements of such a measure in an interdisciplinary, application-oriented research project involving agricultural economists and livestock scientists. We have used a mixed methods approach including a written Delphi survey, group-discussions and on-farm data-collection to select suitable indicators, develop an approach for the identification of threshold values and to design a support measure. Results suggest that, in animal welfare support measures, action- as well as results-oriented elements are necessary to address all dimensions of animal welfare. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare; Rural Development Programme (RDP); action-oriented support; results-oriented support; dairy cows; Welfare Quality®; welfare indicators animal welfare; Rural Development Programme (RDP); action-oriented support; results-oriented support; dairy cows; Welfare Quality®; welfare indicators
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bergschmidt, A.; March, S.; Wagner, K.; Brinkmann, J. A Results-Oriented Approach for the Animal Welfare Measure of the European Union’s Rural Development Programme. Animals 2021, 11, 1570. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061570

AMA Style

Bergschmidt A, March S, Wagner K, Brinkmann J. A Results-Oriented Approach for the Animal Welfare Measure of the European Union’s Rural Development Programme. Animals. 2021; 11(6):1570. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061570

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bergschmidt, Angela, Solveig March, Kathrin Wagner, and Jan Brinkmann. 2021. "A Results-Oriented Approach for the Animal Welfare Measure of the European Union’s Rural Development Programme" Animals 11, no. 6: 1570. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061570

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