Welfare Assessment in Calves Fattened According to the "Outdoor Veal Calf" Concept and in Conventional Veal Fattening Operations in Switzerland

Lara Moser, Jens Becker, Gertraud Schüpbach-Regula, Sarah Kiener, Sereina Grieder, Nina Keil, Edna Hillmann, Adrian Steiner, Mireille Meylan
Antimicrobial use in humans and animals leads to the selection of resistant bacteria, a serious threat to human and animal health, as such bacteria can lead to treatment failure and death. With the "outdoor veal calf" concept, a novel calf fattening system was developed that allows for reducing antimicrobial use by 80% through improvements in management and housing, such as health check before purchase, short transport, vaccination, quarantine in individual hutches, and fattening in small
more » ... in a roofed, straw-bedded paddock with a group hutch for shelter. In that system, veal calves spend their entire lives outdoors in the fresh air. In our study, we wanted to make sure that the observed reduction in antimicrobial treatments was not achieved at the cost of animal welfare, i.e., that sick animals were not left without treatment in order to obtain better figures for treatment reduction. Our results show that calves in the "outdoor veal calf" system had fewer signs of respiratory and digestive diseases than control calves and that their lungs had fewer lesions of pneumonia than controls after slaughter. Thus, not only was antimicrobial use drastically reduced, but calf health was really improved in the new "outdoor veal calf" system.
doi:10.7892/boris.146975 fatcat:6se2m2s23fb75f5mojzcmhza2m