Scientific Opinion on the welfare of cattle kept for beef production and the welfare in intensive calf farming systems
Information given in previous Opinions “Welfare of cattle kept for beef production” (SCAHAW, 2001) and “The risks of poor welfare in intensive calf farming systems” (EFSA, 2006) is updated and recent scientific evidence on the topics reviewed. Risks of poor welfare are identified using a structured analysis, and issues not identified in the SCAHAW (2001) beef Opinion, especially effects of housing and management on enteric and respiratory diseases are reviewed. The Opinion covers all systems of beef production, although the welfare of suckler cows or breeding bulls is not considered. The Chapter on beef cattle presents new evidence and recommendations in relation to heat and cold stress, mutilations and pain management, digestive disorders linked to high concentrate feeds and respiratory disorders linked to overstocking, inadequate ventilation, mixing of animals and failure of early diagnosis and treatment. Major welfare problems in cattle kept for beef production, as identified by risk assessment, were respiratory diseases linked to overstocking, inadequate ventilation, mixing of animals and failure of early diagnosis and treatment, digestive disorders linked to intensive concentrate feeding, lack of physically effective fibre in the diet, and behavioural disorders linked to inadequate floor space, and co-mingling in the feedlot. Major hazards for white veal calves were considered to be iron-deficiency anaemia, a direct consequence of dietary iron restriction, enteric diseases linked to high intakes of liquid feed and inadequate intake of physically effective fibre, discomfort and behavioural disorders linked to inadequate floors and floor space.