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



Pasture based systems often lead to better cow welfare. Nevertheless mastitis and metabolic diseases are major challenges. While local/native breeds produce less milk than modern breeds and therefore are less often used, they may be better adapted to local, especially organic conditions where farmers are more strongly depending on local fodder resources. However, we know very little about health status, medicine use and phenotypic functional characteristics of local/native breeds in organic dairy production in Europe.


Main project activities:

  • Breeding strategies for organic dairy production in Europe will be enhanced by taking into account characteristics of commercial and local/native breeds and their ability to adapt to local environments including grazing and low concentrate feeding.
  • Genomic selection and crossbreeding of local/native and commercial breeds are investigated for future organic dairy cow breeding.
  • Risk factors for stress and udder infections will be identified
  • Systematic use of drying off quarters with mild mastitis will be analysed.
  • Efficient preventive and handling strategies will be devel-oped, improving udder health and reducing medication in organic dairy herds without negative effects on animal welfare.
  • Pasture based feeding strategies is developed for reducing metabolic disease and mastitis risks. This effect can be in-creased by utilizing information concerning individual cow activity.
Financing/ Donor

Bundesministerium für Land- und Forstwirtschaft, Umwelt und Wasserwirtschaft (BMLFUW) Austria, in the framework of CORE Organic Plus

Project partners

Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, Denmark
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University , Denmark
Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Sweden
The Farm Animal Behaviour and Husbandry Section of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Kassel. Germany
The National Research Institute of Animal Production. Poland
Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Veterinary Academy, Lithuania

FiBL project leader/ contact
FiBL project staff
Role of FiBL

Work package leader for WP1

Research area
  • Animal husbandry & Livestock breeding ( )
FiBL project number 50057
Date modified 02.09.2020
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