Expected results and potential impacts

The main deliverable of the IMPRO project is an arrangement of a novel equifinal approach for health planning on organic dairy farms that is tailored to the specific opportunities and limitations of the farm and incorporates cost-benefit calculations. IMPRO will provide pro-active approaches for health monitoring and measures to reduce prevalence rate of production diseases. The results of IMPRO will be incorporated in a herd health management software-based tool for use on organic as well as on conventional dairy farms.

The results and the software tool will be useful for farmers and their advisors and veterinarians in addressing the health situation on (organic) dairy farms. The participatory and farm-specific approach will provide valid information with respect to the likely most effective and efficient measures in the farm specific situation. This will increase the chance that the plan will be adopted compared to more traditionally conceived animal health plans.

Economics of animal health planning and pro-active monitoring and measures will be a relevant outcome of the IMPRO project. While it is generally expected that improved animal health decreases production costs and improves productivity, it is widely unknown, how much expenditures especially in labour time and investments will be necessary to gain an improved health status. It is highly important for the farmer to estimate the break-even point in the farm specific situation.

With regards to the sensitive topic of treatments of diseased animals, IMPRO will address the effectiveness of alternative treatments by elaborating reviews, performing workshops and by conducting on-farm investigation to assess if and to what degree the preconditions needed for an appropriate use of alternative medicine are fulfilled. Thus, a comprehensive overview on the role of alternative methods when striving for options to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock farming will be gained.

The results will be processed and prepared for the potential use by regulating bodies to modify rules and regulations for organic dairy farming according to the state-of-the-art in farm management and treatment of diseases. Results of the IMPRO project will support policy development of the organic farming regulation by providing sound scientific data about of the characteristics of animal health in organic dairy farms across Europe and their associations with management practices. The information obtained through the corresponding reports will enable regulatory bodies, nationally and on EU level, to adapt regulations in a more evidence based approach, which will increase approval by farmers in general and the scientific community as well.