Progress in WP2

WP2 has developed the on-farm protocol for assessing animal health status, resources, measures and general characteristics of organic dairy farms, and applied it to more than 200 farms in four European countries (France, Germany, Spain and Sweden). The protocol and additional data collection provided an estimation of the European-wide and structural variability of health status on organic dairy farms. Furthermore, the participatory and farm-centric approach was carried out, based on an impact matrix to assess opportunities and constraints. Finally, the health status of the farms were assessed before and after the farms had participated in the advisory activities. Also reference values have been elaborated which could be used to establish achievable health standards within organic dairy farms in Europe. The reference values as well as feasible approaches have been discussed in different European countries with stakeholders from various sectors.

Deliverables D2.1, D2.2 and D2.4 are available for download.

 

Progress in WP3

WP3 has developed proactive monitoring and preventive protocols and has carried out testing and piloting of the initial protocols in France and Sweden with farmers, advisors and vets. A monitoring protocol was tailored for the farm in order to adapt it to the health problems that the farmers considered important in their herds. The main conclusion of the tests was that the protocols should be adaptable to each farm. Hence, they have been revised accordingly. For 12 months, the farmer and the respective advisor met in a regular basis to implement the pro-active protocol by their own. Finally, the technical effectiveness of the pro-active protocol will be assessed by its observance, its perception and the evolution of the indicators of the animal health status, reproduction and milk performances. 

Progress in WP4

In WP 4 protocols / decision trees for the diagnostic procedure and the use of homeopathic treatments have been elaborated. Five questionnaires have been addressed to different stakeholders in Germany, France and Spain to assess the manageability of alternative treatments according to the state-of-the-art. The results of the surveys displayed considerable heterogeneity in the use of homeopathic remedies among the farms. Main barriers regarding the appropriate use of homeopathy have been identified. 

Additionally, legal and factual prescriptions and constraints in connection with the use of alternative treatments by veterinarians and animal healing practitioners in various European countries have been assessed. The options to make use of homeopathic products are regulated in most European countries. However, extent and depth of detail of the regulations vary to a high degree between countries. The results indicate that the expertise in homeopathy available in farm practice varies considerably between farms and evoke relevant questions on the success of treatments and prevention of farm animals from an extended suffering.

Progress in WP5

In WP5 an adaptive conjoint analysis (ACA) has been developed and was carried out during the first farm visits in WP2. Data have been analysed and the utilities derived from the ACA have been related to farm specific socio-demographic data. Furthermore, a sociological questionnaire and an economical tool to be used during the second farm visits were elaborated.

Farmers’ perception towards animal health problems have been analysed and summarised in a report (D5.1). Also the intention and motivation of farmers to implement recommendations have been evaluated. It was found that dairy farmers across the four study countries were positive about taking additional preventative measures to improve the health status of their herds. They believed that this would result not only in improved herd physical performance, but also in greater cost effectiveness and improved job satisfaction for them. Furthermore, farmers will be most likely to take-up additional health promoting activities if they are compatible with their everyday farming activities and if they have strong business performance goals aimed at maximising the physical performance of the herd.

Furthermore, a generic partial budgeting calculation model has been developed based on the calculation of the so-called failure costs of production diseases on organic dairy farms and providing country specific default values, which can be changed by the farmer and/or his/her advisors.

Deliverable D5.1 is available for download.

Progress in WP6

WP6 has the objective to elaborate a prefiguration (beta-version) of a software-based decision support toolbox for herd health management in organic dairy. The software module “impact matrix” has been developed according to plan and has been used during the second farm visits in WP2. As further tools: a health monitoring tool, two approaches of cost-benefit analyses, enabling the identification of measures with the best cost-benefit relationship, and protocols for prevention and treatments have been elaborated under WP2, WP3, WP4 and WP5. Currently a test phase on 24 farms to prove the applicability of the software toolbox is ongoing.

Progress in WP7

In WP7, the project website was established, providing the outline of the project (www.impro-dairy.eu). The project brochures as well as accepted public Deliverables are available for download on the website. A range of outreach and dissemination activities have been carried out including conference presentations and the writing of articles. After have gained the results, the latter will become a main focus in the next reporting period.

Progress in WP9

The IMPRO project was expanded by an additional WP9, the Pilot Project 'Coordinate research on alternative treatments in livestock farming'. WP9 has the objective to assess the role of alternative treatments (homeopathy and phytotherapy) when striving for options to reduce the use of antibiotics in organic and conventional livestock farming.

To gain comprehensive knowledge of the state of the art, reviews on the efficacy of homeopathy and phytotherapy have been elaborated, showing quite heterogeneous results. The currently existent research network can be regarded as poor. Furthermore, two workshops have been conducted to discuss the results of the reviews with proponents and opponents of the alternative treatment strategies to receive a comprehensive overview of the arguments. To assess the preconditions for the use of phytotherapeutic treatments according to the state of the art in pig and poultry production, veterinarians and feed advisers with experience in the use of phytotherapy in pig and poultry have been interviewed through a structured questionnaire in four European countries. A report will be prepared in time. Task 9.5, addressing the economic impacts of the use of homeopathic and phytotherapeutic treatments by a stochastic model is still in progress, as well as the elaboration of D 9.6, which is the summarizing report on alternative treatments in the project. It will describe the options and limitations in the use of alternative remedies to reduce the use of antibiotics, and draw conclusions and recommendations for assistance policy.