Project: Improving animal health and welfare in organic cattle milk production through breeding and management

Good animal health is a cornerstone of organic livestock production with vital importance for productivity and economy as well as for animal welfare and antibiotic resistance risk in human and veterinary medicine. Organic cattle milk production is the largest and by far the economically most important organic livestock production in Europe. Focusing on dairy cow health through a combined improvement of management and breeding provides a unique opportunity for improving societal trust in organic milk by maintenance of good health and welfare in systems with relatively low concentrate and medication use and high levels of grazing. Simultaneously this will help to improve productivity and cost efficiency. The overall aim of the project is to improve udder and metabolic health in organic cattle milk production through breeding and management. Research questions are specified which will contribute to immediate improvements of animal health and welfare through optimized farm management as well as long-term improvements through breeding including optimal use of local/native genetic resources. Commercial and local breed health characteristics and information on production environments are used to enhance sustainability of breeding strategies for organic dairy production in Europe, including genomic selection and crossbreeding of local/native and commercial breeds. Risk factors for stress and udder infections and alternatives to antibiotic treatment are identified as well as other risk factors for mastitis and metabolic diseases in pasture based organic dairy farms. This will contribute to efficient preventive management and handling strategies and thereby to improved udder and metabolic health and reduced use of medication in organic dairy herds without negative effects on animal welfare.

Acronym ORGANICDAIRYHEALTH (Reference Number: 141)
Duration 15/01/2015 - 15/01/2018
Project Topic 3. Livestock health management system including breeding
Website visit project website
Network CORE Organic Plus
Call Transnational Research in Organic Food and Farming Systems (2014)

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 n/a Partner Germany
2 Aarhus University Department of Animal Science Coordinator Denmark
3 Institute for sustainable development Partner Slovenia
4 n/a Partner Switzerland
5 n/a Partner Poland
6 n/a Partner Sweden
7 n/a Partner Denmark
8 Biotechnical Faculty - Department of Animal Science Partner Slovenia
9 n/a Partner Austria
10 Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Veterinary Academy Partner Lithuania