Erfarenheter av utedrift med köttdjur i Sverige och Kanada

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Animal Environment and Health

Author: Johanna Klasson; [2007]

Keywords: utedrift; köttdjur;

Abstract: Beef cattle wintering outdoors should be provided a shelter, e.g. a type of barn or corresponding. This type of production requires appropriate soil types and secured animal welfare. For example, a clean and dry resting place needs to be provided to the animals. To receive an exemption for buildings the farmer has to have something equivalent that provides an adequate shelter. However, this exemption is difficult to receive from the Swedish Animal Welfare Agency. The same agency is commissioned by the Swedish government to investigate the welfare in beef production during wintertime. In their investigation they will look at different types of weather protections and their advantages and disadvantages due to the type of protection that the animals prefer; the climate impact on animal health and suitable terrain and soil type for beef production. From this investigation, they will develop a welfare program. This MSc thesis was initiated to increase the knowledge that helps conducting such an investigation. The profitability in Swedish beef production has decreased after the removal of different monetary supports. By minimizing building costs, creating larger pastures and thereby improving the large-scale opportunities, it is more likely to get some profitability in beef production. The purpose of this thesis was to investigate how beef production affects animal health, soil, environment and forest. This was done by a literature review and a project including ten farm visits in Sweden and eleven farm visits in Canada. The Canadian farms were visited in April, which is after the winter period. The farms in Sweden were located from north to south to include regional variations. The Swedish farms were visited twice. The first visit occurred at 6 the worst time, during muddy circumstances, which could occur both in the autumn and in the spring. The second visit occurred during springtime, when soil samples and approximation of damaged vegetation cover was made. Impacts on grassland, soil and forest of the animals as well as animal cleanliness were evaluated for each farm. Results from the study show that outdoor wintering of beef cattle is more preferable on sandy soils than on clay soils concerning animal welfare. Muddy conditions are more likely to appear around water- and feed stations when the soil type is heavier. The farmers have also noticed that the soil become more water logged after some years of production, even on sandy soils. This leads to a more unfavorable environment for the animals after some years. The forest served as a protection from wind and precipitation on many farms. Some of these farms with forest had experienced some damages to the trees due to wintering of cattle. Damages as root trampling, bark eating, and resin flow that led to dead trees was observed. The cattle's use of barns varied among farms and in some cases the animals preferred the forest. If the barns had poor bedding, the animals were more inclined to seek other shelters. Soils, that are drained well, are more appropriate from the animals point of view but not favourable for the environment. With an intact vegetation cover it is easier to keep the animals clean and thereby minimizing the risks for dirty animals and, for example, cold stress. Risks for soil damages increase after a warm and precipitation-rich autumn and winter. The damages are more limited with sheep than with cattle. If the forest shall provide shelter but not be harmed, it is recommended that the animals are kept in the outskirts of the forest or have restricted access to the forest. By this way, the wind shelter is used and in combination with some kind of roof, an accepted weather protection is provided. Results show that a high density of cattle on a small surface affects the soil porosity and the vegetation cover in a negative way. Both the Canadian and Swedish experiences show that the animals had clean furs although there were muddy conditions. This proves that the animals find a clean and dry resting place. The conclusions are that the circumstances for outdoor wintering must be suitable regarding to soil, terrain and forest.

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