Goat care will receive more attention in the coming years. A team of researchers is working to improve the existing Wellbeing Observatory. Animal-related standards are central to this.
This came on December 10th during Online Goat’s Day.Be a goat and say itAccording to animal welfare consultant Hans Hubster, who initiated this new research, the current welfare observer lives among goat farmers. This is reflected in the number of participants.
Among the goat farmers who distribute NGZO dairy products, 88 percent participate in Welfare Monitor 1.0. This is expected to be 100 percent very soon,” says Hubster.
Current standards include the number of square meters per goat, long-term milking, sniffing and climbing opportunities, and diversion and play opportunities. “It’s mainly about environmental and management issues,” explains the animal welfare consultant.
You can tell if everything is OK from the animals themselves
Existing standards are an excellent starting point, but improvement is needed through the inclusion of animal-related standards. These are the items that goat farmers use on a daily basis.
Businessman looking at his animals. Does it look good? Do abnormalities appear and what do I do about it? You can tell from the animals themselves if everything is OK. If you provide a good lodging, but the food is not ok, you have a problem. You can see it in the animal, Hubster explains.
In order to suggest points for improvement in this area, research into Welfare Monitor 2.0 was initiated with funding from the government and the goat sector. In addition, researchers must come up with promising points for improvement, scientifically supported and useful in practice.
According to Hubster, a lot is known about this among cows. Much research has also been done on the welfare of goats. This emerges from a literature review. Especially in Italy, Portugal and the UK. This resulted in seventy suggestions for possible standards, says the animal care advisor.
After selection, eight possible criteria remained. It is about dying or involuntary secretions, hair and skin, soft gait, proper udder, clean hindquarters, clean nose and eyes, alert, social goats, thermal comfort, in other words the desired ambient temperature to prevent heat stress and cold.
“These are things that entrepreneurs encounter every day in the picture, but it’s hard to score in a reliable way,” Hubster says.
The animal care consultant believes technology can help. “Consider a camera system that takes a picture or video of each goat at the exit of the milking parlor, for example to check hair and skin.”
“No paper tiger”
Animal welfare consultant Hans Hubster says researchers don’t want to create a paper tiger with the Welfare Monitor. It is of no use to anyone for many fill-in forms that you cannot do anything with as an entrepreneur. Also, we don’t want to jump from the floor to the attic. We will not immediately include all eight criteria. We want to take steps with practice in order to reach practical and feasible standards. The pilot must prove the latter.