Project: Develop economic sound free walk farming systems elevating animal welfare, health and manure quality, while being appreciated by society

Acronym FreeWalk (Reference Number: 117)
Duration 01/06/2017 - 31/05/2020
Project Topic Aim of this project is to further develop economic sound free walk cattle farming systems, which improve animal welfare and soil structure, utilize waste products and have public support. As innovative housing systems, the compost bedded pack barn and the cow garden are applied with a completely free walking and lying area and are compared with cubicle barns for reference. The bedded pack barn uses organic waste materials as bedding. It has the potential to elevate the welfare and longevity of animals and improve soil quality. The highly innovative cow garden has an artificial floor of several layers and is self-cleaning while separating manure and urine. Both housing systems are combined with grazing during the summer season. Our approach will deliver an integrated assessment of case farms spread over Europe, using experimental and modelling methods to evaluate systems performance. Housing as part of intensive and extensive farming will be examined in a holistic context, encompassing the whole farm: bedding, artificial floor, animal welfare, health, manure quality, soil structure, CPN-balances, and product quality. Greater insight in the composting process plays a crucial role in the success of the system. Societal appreciation of the Free Walk farming system and products is assessed at regional level. To integrate the results of the various research activities, a systems analysis and economic evaluation will be performed at farm, national and European level. The project consortium includes 8 leading research institutes plus 4 SME stakeholders all over Europe, providing a wide coverage of disciplines. This project targets the three call topics 'improve productivity, resilience and competitiveness', 'reduce waste and enhance environment', and 'improve on-farm practices enhancing consumer acceptability and societal appreciation associated with animal welfare and product quality”.
Website visit project website
Network SusAn
Call SusAn Call 2016

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Technical University of Munich Partner Germany
2 University of Kassel Partner Germany
3 Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Partner Sweden
4 Università degli Studi di Firenze Partner Italy
5 University of Ljubljana Coordinator Slovenia
6 National Agricultural and Food Centre Partner Slovakia
7 WageningenUR (WUR/DLO) Partner Netherlands
8 Agricultural Research Organization Partner Israel
9 University of Kentucky Partner United States
10 HBLFA Raumberg-Gumpenstein Partner Austria
11 Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research Partner Norway