Dairy farming can be more sustainable

17 March 2009

Animal welfare, animal health, the environment and the economy can be combined successfully in dairy farming. This is the conclusion of the ‘Strength of Cows’ (Kracht van Koeien) project of the Animal Sciences Group (ASG) of Wageningen University and Research Centre. The report was submitted to the Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Gerda Verburg.

A lot more space and movement for cows can be combined with a reduction of between 50% and 75% in the emission of ammonia, nitrate and greenhouse gases without adversely affecting income. Last year, Minister Verburg, stated in the ‘Sustainable Livestock Farming’ memorandum that livestock farming in the Netherlands in 2023 will be ‘sustainable in all respects’. This means economically profitable livestock farming with excellent animal welfare and animal health and no damage to the environment and the countryside. The Minister stated that huge strides would need to be made in sustainability and that system innovation was crucial. The ministry of agriculture, for example, supports research, is providing financial support for investments and is offering tax incentives.