Animal health in organic dairy farming results from a survey in Germany
In organic farming, the housing, feeding and management conditions, as set by EU legislation and organic farming associations, are supposed to be welfare friendly and beneficial to health. However, there is evidence that the adaptability of farm animals is often overstressed in organic farming (Sundrum, 2001). Production diseases are generally regarded as a serious problem in dairy farming due to their welfare relevance and economic impact (Kossaibati and Esslemont, 1997). However, there is only little information available about the situation on German organic dairy farms. While studies in other European countries revealed similar incidences as in conventional farming for the most important diseases (e. g. Weller and Cooper, 1996, Vaarst et al., 1998, Reksen et al., 1999, Weller and Bowling, 2000), farm structures and housing systems in many countries differ from the German farming conditions. It was the aim of the present study to assess (1) the health state in German organic dairy farming with regard to mastitis, lameness and metabolic disorders, to assess (2) the use of preventive measures in order to control diseases and (3), to investigate possible relationships of the health state with the specific housing conditions and/or the application of these measures.