Welfare of beef cattle and calves


Beef cattle welfare, welfare of calves in intensive farming systems, risk assessment, updates
First published in the EFSA Journal
15 May 2012
20 April 2012
Scientific Opinion

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.

Panel members at the time of adoption
Anette Bøtner, Donald Broom, Marcus G. Doherr, Mariano Domingo, Jörg Hartung, Linda Keeling, Frank Koenen, Simon More, David Morton, Pascal A. Oltenacu, Fulvio Salati, Mo Salman, Moez Sanaa, James M. Sharp, Jan A. Stegeman, Endre Szücs, Hans-H. Thulke, Philippe Vannier, John Webster and Martin Wierup
Panel on Animal Health and Welfare
ahaw [at] efsa.europa.eu
EFSA Journal 2012;10(5):2669 [166 pp.].
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