Dairy Farmers Improving Animal Welfare

Dairy Farmers Improving Animal Welfare

Washington State Dairy Federation Program Director, Jesse Robbins, talks about some of the hot- button animal welfare issues in the dairy industry today, and what Washington dairy farmers are doing about it.

ROBBINS: The industry has in recent years come to the realization that we may need to identify some potential areas that need to be addressed and steps taken to improve in those. Any dairy farmer will tell you that lameness is something that we’re definitely focused on improving every day, and mastitis is another issue that we’re very focused on. And then there’s pain management protocols with anesthesia that I think the industry recognizes and recommends that we make sure we’re giving them the proper attention that they’re due.

Robbins says the industry must also discuss ways to adapt to new science.

ROBBINS: We’ve focused on agricultural productivity and profitability for a long time, one could argue to varying degrees of success, but some of these animal welfare questions have great need for further research. The dairy farmers of Washington, for example, we’re funding work at looking at lameness - getting some of our researchers and graduate students out on farms taking a look at basic practices related to lameness and how they might affect it.

Robbins says Washington dairy farmers are taking the animal welfare issue head on.

ROBBINS: It’s a challenge, but I’ve really got to take my hat off to our producers. This is a contentious issue, it’s very emotional, but out producers looked at me and said, this isn’t going away, and we want to have a voice and we want to hear what the concerns are and what we might need to think about doing in the future to address them.

I’m Lacy Gray and that’s Washington Ag Today on the Northwest Ag Information Network. 

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