Swiss dairy cattle rarely live a productive life of longer than 5 years- sometimes even less, and therefore fail to reach their maximum lactation potential. They are often prematurely culled due to udder diseases, fertility problems, lameness, or the farmer’s need to make room for a calving heifer. However, farmers rarely record the real reasons for removing a cow from the herd, due to a sense of pressure and obligation to produce and a lack of universal standards regarding longevity to assist in this decision. This is a monumental problem, from both an environmental and animal welfare point of view, especially because dairy is widely consumed in Switzerland. Therefore, this paper seeks to find ways to improve longevity and to investigate if the methods on both a Bio Suisse and Biodynamic farm, as opposed to an intensive, high-producing farm, assist in lengthening the life of a dairy cow. This study was done using a wide variety of existing gray and academic literature, and personal interviews with a cattle health researcher and Swiss dairy farmers. It was found that there was no direct correlation between organic farming and the increased longevity of dairy cows, due to a lack of previous research and data. However, there is a likelihood that the prioritization of animal welfare and environmental sustainability on organic farms contributes and supports a longer productive life for dairy cattle.
Agricultural and Resource Economics | Agriculture | Dairy Science | Food Studies
McMillan, Frances, "Improving the Longevity of Dairy Cattle: An Important Initiative for the Swiss Dairy Industry" (2022). Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection. 3453.
Agricultural and Resource Economics Commons, Agriculture Commons, Dairy Science Commons, Food Studies Commons
Switzerland: Global Health and Development Policy