Activities co-financed by EU

Family Farm

Domestic animal husbandry and EU rules

Satisfactory results in farming of domestic animals largely depend on use of domestic animals of high genetic value. EU legislation aims at promoting free trade of breeding animals and their genetic material considering sustainability of genetic source protection and breeding programmes.
The basic objective:

  • free trade in breeding animals and their genetic material
  • right to registration in records of the corresponding breed

It has been achieved through alignment of rules and regulations on:

  • recognition of breeders’ associations and breeding organisations
  • registration of thoroughbred animals in the records
  • issuing of pedigree certificates
  • performance and progeny tests and genetic assessments
  • acceptance for breeding
Regulations from the field of breeding of domestic animals

Legislation in the field of breeding of domestic animals in the European Union is continuously upgraded and adjusted to current requirements and needs of breeders.
Since a series of Regulations an the Decision adopted on 8 June 2016 is in effect, the single Regulation (EU) 2016/1012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2016 on zootechnical and genealogical conditions for the breeding, trade in and entry into the Union of purebred breeding animals, hybrid breeding pigs and the germinal products thereof and amending Regulation (EU) No 652/2014, Council Directives 89/608/EEC and 90/425/EEC and repealing certain acts in the area of animal breeding (“Animal Breeding Regulation”) was enacted.
The Regulation has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 29 June 2016 and it took effect on the twentieth day following its publication and and it shall be applied as of 1 November 2018.
The following directives, regulations and decisions in the field of breeding of domestic animals are in force:

Bovine species 
Basic directive
organisation
Council Directive 2009/157 EC
Recognition of breedingCommission Decision 84/247/EEC
Registration in herd booksCommission Decision 84/419/EEC
Pedigree certificatesCommission Decision 2005/379/EC
Performance testing and assessment of breeding valuesCommission Decision 2006/427/EC
INTERBULLCouncil Decision 96/463/EC
Acceptance for breedingCouncil Decision 87/328/EEC
Pigs  
Basic directiveCouncil Directive 88/661/EEC
Recognition of breeding organisationsPure breedsCommission Decision 89/501/EEC
HybridsCommission Decision 89/504/EEC
Registration in herd booksPure breedsCommission Decision 89/502/EEC
HybridsCommission Decision 89/505/EEC
Pedigree certificatesPure breedsCommission Decision 89/503/EEC
HybridsCommission Decision 89/506/EEC
Performance testing and assessment of breeding valuesPure breeds and hybridsCommission Decision 89/507/EEC
Acceptance for breedingPure breedsCouncil Directive 90/118/EEC
HybridsCouncil Directive 90/119/EEC
Sheep and goats 
Basic directiveCouncil Directive 89/361/EEC
Recognition of breeding organisationsCommission Decision 90/254/EEC
Registration in herd booksCommission Decision 90/255/EEC
Pedigree certificatesCommission Decision 90/258/EEC
Performance testing and assessment of breeding valuesCommission Decision 90/256/EEC
Acceptance for breedingCommission Decision 90/257/EEC
Horses and donkeys 
Basic directiveCouncil Directive 90/427/EEC
Recognition of breeding organisationsCommission Decision 92/354/EEC
Coordination between breeding organisationsCommission Decision 92/354/EEC
Registration in herd booksCommission Decision 96/78/EC
Identification document (passport)Commission Decision (EC) No 504/2008
*of 1.1.2016 Regulation 504/2008 is replaced by Regulation 2015/262
Pedigree certificates for semen, egg cells and embryosCommission Decision 96/79/EC
Equine competitions 
Basic directiveCouncil Directive 90/428/EEC
Data collectionCommission Decision 92/216/EEC
Coordinating authorities of equine competitionsCoordinating Authorities of Equine Competitions
List of organisations 
Basic directiveCommission Decision 2009/712/EC
Other breeding animals 
Basic directiveCouncil Directive 91/174/EEC
Import from third countries 
Basic directiveCouncil Directive 94/28/EC
Pedigree certificatesCommission Decision 96/509/EC
Odluka Komisije 96/510/EC
Approved organisationsCommission Decision 2006/139

 


 

More profitable production through better accommodation conditions

Ivica Vranić, struč.spec.ing.agr., CAA

Milk production is probably the most complex agricultural production. In order to make it profitable, the herd should consist of healthy, long-living cows. The term “long-living cow” means a cow which lives for a long time. A long-living cow is a cow which regularly calves a live calf unassisted, which has a normal cycle, visibly indicates when it is in heat, conceives after insemination, resistant to health and metabolic problems, has good gait and posture without frequent need for correction of hooves and, naturally, produces an appropriate quantity of milk of good composition. Longevity of dairy cows is normally defined as productive life span, i.e. interval from the first calving to removal, and it actually represents the cow’s ability to avoid removal from the herd because of its positive characteristics. Longevity, i.e. length of productive life of dairy cows is hereditary to a certain extent, but hereditability of this property is relatively low. A much larger effect on length of productive life is exerted by non-genetic (environmental) factors related to the method and conditions of accommodation of the animals.

Breeders often pay inadequate attention to conditions of accommodation of their animals. Improvements to the accommodation conditions is not only important because of the care for animal welfare. Better conditions for accommodation of cows ensure greater volume and better quality of production and thereby sustainability and competitiveness of production. Poor animal accommodation conditions are often the cause of health and reproductive problems for a herd and they result in a high rate of removal from the herd. Mastitis, hoof problems and reproductive problems are usually the main reasons for removal of cows from herds at our farms. Those are so-called unwanted removals where breeders are forced t remove a cow characterised by good production, i.e. a profitable cow, due to disease, injury or infertility. Removal from the herd is wanted only if the basic reason for the removal is low milk production level of the cow while the cow is otherwise healthy and fertile.

Economic effect

A high rate of unwanted removal from the herd may have a significant adverse economic effect on the economy. In ideal conditions, a herd consists of healthy, productive cows and the removal is performed on economic grounds with the aim of replacing older, less productive cows with young cows possessing better genetic material and production potential – rather than because of health issues of problems caused by poor accommodation. In cases where many young cows are removed from the herd because of poor fertility, mastitis or hoof-related problems, breeders are forced to use all available heifers for the overhaul and the herd contains few cows in later stages of lactation when the cows produce more milk and the total milk production at the farm is thereby reduced. Anyway, taking into consideration the investment required for breeding of an animal until the moment when it starts to be productive or investment in purchase of the animal, it is deemed that at least one lactation is required for the heifer to repay the assets invested in its breeding. In the subsequent healthy lactation, the animal actually begins to generate profit to the breeder.

High-production cows tend to suffer more from problems caused by poor accommodation conditions. A greater rate of removal from the herd therefore often results with retention of cows with fewer problems – and those are the ones which produce less. Also, in cases where the removal rate is high, the farm may suffer from the problem of inability to breed a sufficient number of replacement heifers and therefore many chronically ill animals, which should be removed, remain in the herd or additional asset are required to buy heifers. All this ultimately has a markedly adverse effect on profitability of production.

Practical examples

Numerous research studies were performed in order to assess loss of income as a consequence of conditions such as mastitis, laminitis, reproductive problems – and most of them concluded that the loss per animal ranges up to several thousand Croatian kunas. It is obvious that improvement of health of the herd and upgrading the productive life of cows by providing appropriate accommodation may be very profitable to breeders. Some breeders manage to run their herd, i.e. they have provided such accommodation for their animals that avoided onset of the above problems to an acceptable measure, but it should be recognised that there is very few such breeders.

An ideal solution for keeping of dairy cows does not exist – at least on most farms – but cows should be provided such conditions that they may act as naturally as possible. Comfort of cows directly affects duration of the period in which cows are healthy and productive. This should be taken into account in construction of the barn, but the issue is often made subordinate to making the breeder’s work easier. However, great investment and radical changes are not necessarily needed to provide better accommodation to cows. Relatively small-scale works or simple procedures are often enough to improve comfort for barn animals and they will have significant favourable effects on welfare, health and longevity of the animals.

Movement of cows and pen

First of all, cows should be provided with sufficient space for unhindered fulfilment of their needs. In an overcrowded barn, the animals do not have enough space to lie down, move, feed and drink. They spend too much time standing up, most often on hard, slippery and wet concrete and this results in problems with hooves and/or limping. Limping cows produce milk, but it is questionable how much and for how long. Limping adversely affects production and welfare and fertility of animals, and it is among top three causes of unwanted removal from the herd.

The most effective procedure to reduce the problems with hooves is to allow cows grazing and access to a pen. Occurrence of limping and hoof disease in barns where cows are allowed to graze is significantly lower than in barns where that is not possible. However, natural conditions in the form of grazing are not always possible to achieve in present-day conditions of cattle farming, but cows may be provided a greater comfort inside barns.

In a barn, cows should be allowed the optimal rest standing and moving conditions. Comfort of the space used to lie down affects the time spent by the cows lying down. In the course of a day, cows spend about 50% of time resting, while the remaining time is spent standing up during various activities – feeding, milking etc. If the space for them to lie down is too small or there are insufficient such spaces or if they are uncomfortable, the cows will spend less time lying down and any reduction of rest adversely affects legs and hooves – especially if the floor is of poor quality. Sufficient lying down also ensures good ruminating. The surface used to lie down must be soft and spacious (it allows the cow to lie down, get up and rest without problems, injuries or fear). Besides, it must be such that it provides the cow a clean space for its rest. It is important that such spaces have sufficient headroom when the cow lies down or gets up. Spaces for this purpose with a wall in its front are examples of dysfunctional spaces. The base of the space used to lie down is important in terms of comfort. Such areas covered with sand, sawdust, hay or high-quality mattresses protect against knee and ankle injuries.

Accommodation

Rest areas are exceptionally important, but it cannot compensate for poor flooring across animals have to walk for feed, water or milking. Barn corridor flooring should allow the most natural movement of cows – using long, safe strides. This means soft floor offering sufficient friction which shall prevent excessive growth of hoofs while preventing excessive wear of hoofs and providing good hygiene and maintaining the surface as dry and clean as possible. The most common barn surfacing in the country is concrete. The drawback of concrete is that it is hard and over time it becomes slippery. Research indicates that high-quality rubber base ensures optimal walking surface and wear out of hooves the best. Placement of rubber courses onto the concrete base improves cow walking comfort and results in fewer problems with hooves, joints and legs. Such an investment in high-quality flooring shall facilitate walking and reduce slipping – and it will quickly pay off.

Cows suffering from problems with hooves find it more difficult to access food and water, they produce less milk and they less exhibit signs that they are in heat. It is therefore necessary to monitor health of hooves daily, maintain them properly, implement preventive measures and treat them if necessary.

In addition to sufficient rest and walking areas, cows must be provided with sufficient space to feed and drink water. The cows should be provided as much feed as they would like to and sufficient space at the trough for them to eat. Otherwise, some cows will eat less, while others eat much more – ultimately adversely affecting the total production of the herd. The feed must be available whenever they wish to eat. It is clear that the trough must be kept clean, and a smooth surface will make cleaning and maintenance of hygiene much easier. In addition to sufficient space along the through, appropriate height of the trough is also important. High-yield dairy cows drink up to 150 litres of water per day. Therefore, fresh and clean water should always be easily accessible to cows through a sufficient number of drinking troughs well distributed in the barn.

Micro-climate and light

Appropriate micro-climate in the barn plays an important role in maintenance of good health of the herd and it has a favourable effect on duration of the cows’ productive life. Cows like colder weather. When air temperature in the barn exceeds 25 °C, the cows start to use their own energy to cool down instead to produce milk. In high temperature conditions, the cows consume less food. It is therefore necessary to ensure good ventilation (natural or mechanic) to facilitate flow of fresh air necessary for stable production in the barn. Good ventilation also reduces air moisture. Excessive concentration of moisture helps development of micro-organisms thereby creating conditions favourable for onset of cow mastitis.

Cows, as any living creature, require light for normal functioning. Light favourably affects health and resistance of organisms, and sufficient quantities of light are necessary for good production. Particular attention should be paid to providing sufficient quantity of (artificial) light, especially in winter time when there is less daylight available. However, the artificial light may not replace natural light. Exposure to sunlight facilitates absorption of vitamin D by cows – which is particularly important for cows which have small quantities of hay in their diet. Therefore, it would be good to provide cows with access to a pen. If that is not possible, a sufficient quantity of light should be provided in the barn. Light favourably affects function of sex organs and reproductive capacity. In insufficiently illuminated barns, it is harder to detect estrus and rate of conception is often low.

Controlled overhaul by replacing older cows with young, healthy, genetically sound animals calving for the first time is the basis of survival of a dairy farm. A prerequisite for that is a herd where young, long-living animals predominate because only in that case the breeder has the ability to leave only the best heifers for the overhaul. Healthy cows breed healthy calves and healthy calves, with appropriate care and accommodation conditions from an early age, may develop into long-living, productive animals. Providing the cows with good conditions and by application of good practice in management of health of the herd shall improve welfare and productivity of animals and that shall ultimately also bring about a higher income and better quality of life of the breeder.

 

Domestic animal husbandry and EU rules

Satisfactory results in farming of domestic animals largely depend on use of domestic animals of high genetic value. EU legislation aims at promoting free trade of breeding animals and their genetic material considering sustainability of genetic source protection and breeding programmes.
The basic objective:
• – free trade in breeding animals and their genetic material
• – right to registration in records of the corresponding breed
It has been achieved through alignment of rules and regulations on:
• – recognition of breeders’ associations and breeding organisations
• – registration of thoroughbred animals in the records
• issuing of pedigree certificates
• performance and progeny tests and genetic assessments
• – acceptance for breeding
Regulations from the field of breeding of domestic animals
Legislation in the field of breeding of domestic animals in the European Union is continuously upgraded and adjusted to current requirements and needs of breeders.
Since a series of Regulations an the Decision adopted on 8 June 2016 is in effect, the single Regulation (EU) 2016/1012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2016 on zootechnical and genealogical conditions for the breeding, trade in and entry into the Union of purebred breeding animals, hybrid breeding pigs and the germinal products thereof and amending Regulation (EU) No 652/2014, Council Directives 89/608/EEC and 90/425/EEC and repealing certain acts in the area of animal breeding (“Animal Breeding Regulation”) was enacted.
The Regulation has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 29 June 2016 and it took effect on the twentieth day following its publication and it shall be applied as of 1 November 2018.
The following directives, regulations and decisions in the field of breeding of domestic animals are in force:


55 Years of Common Agricultural Policy

The 55th anniversary of the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union is marked in 2017. The Common Agricultural Policy, one of foundations of European integrations has ensured production of food and life in rural areas for more than five decades.

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was launched in years marked with food shortages and its first objective was to provide sufficient quantities of food at affordable prices to consumers while ensuring appropriate living conditions for farmers. Since then, objectives of the CAP changed and grew as the society changed. Following the initial need to provide sufficient food for the population, development of agriculture gradually evolved to sustainable agriculture, care for the environment, preservation of culture and tradition of rural areas and their economic development. Present-day objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy are increased competitiveness and sustainability of agriculture and rural areas throughout the EU taking into consideration economic, environmental, and territorial peculiarities which are abundant in Europe.

Years that marked the Common Agricultural Policy

1957 The Treaty of Rome established the European Economic Community (a forerunner of the EU) among six European states. Launching of the Common Agricultural Policy was foreseen.
1962 Launch of the Common Agricultural Policy – the basis for the agricultural policy was ensuring acceptable prices for farmers. Food production increased each year and the first objective – secure supply – was achieved.
1970s – 1980s Management of the produced quantities of food This period was marked with production of food in excess of the need and measures to regulate or restrict production (quotas) were introduced.
1992 The Common Agricultural Policy changes and support related to products is discontinued and moved to support related to producers. Farmers are directed to farming practices which are more acceptable to the environment. This change coincided with the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.
1990s The CAP is increasingly directed towards quality of food. New measures are introduced to support investments in farms, education, improvements of processing and marketing. Protection of traditional and regional products commences. The first European legislation on organic farming is also enacted.
2000 Rural development is taking increasingly significant position. The Common Agricultural Policy is directed towards economic, social and cultural development of rural Europe.
2003 Reform of the CAP severs links between subsidies and production. Farmers are directed to the market and income subsidy is started. The farmers must follow and comply with strict food safety rules and high environmental protection and animal welfare standards.
2000s The European Union is expanding to 27 European states and the number of farmers nearly doubles and the common market encompasses more than 500 million residents.
2011 Reform of the CAP strengthens economic and environmental competitiveness of the agricultural sector, innovation, and care for climate change, and it supports employment and growth of rural areas.
2013 – 2015 Implementation of the 2013 reform began in 2015 However, this period is marked with a decrease of prices of agricultural products and increase of uncertainty. A debate is underway on reform activities in the following period.

 

Assuming that the need for food will grow by 40 % by 2050, Europe should produce more, but not at any cost. Through the 1992 reform, the farmers were given the responsibility to preserve the landscape and biodiversity with reasonable use of natural resources – primarily soil and water. These guidelines are also implemented in practical application through incentives to diversity of crops, maintenance of permanent grasslands and pastures and less intensive production.

Effect of climate changes is perceptible and everything that seemed a distant threat of the future is already felt today. Agriculture must be adapted to changing weather patterns and increasingly frequent natural disasters. Through the supports, the farmers are helped to reduced greenhouse gas emissions through changes of feeding of the domestic animals, development of renewable energy sources such as biomass and better use of by-products. All these activities contribute to the global fight to ameliorate the climate changes.

Safe food may only come from healthy and well treated animals. EU animal welfare standards have been introduced to avoid inflicting them pain and suffering both in terms of the method of their breeding at farms and along the route from farms to the market. All domestic animals must be provided with the minimum living space and farmers are encouraged to return to animal-keeping methods where the animals are free to move in the natural environment.

Today, the farmers are provided incentives in sale of their products directly on the market giving them a glimpse of the offer and demand for their products. The farmers are free to independently decide what to produce on the basis of their own plans and consumer needs. Incentives are provided for starting of new activities in rural areas – such as small farm shops, setting up crafts or cultural offer aimed at reinvigoration of villages – and these activities do not have to be directly related to agriculture. Great abundance of European landscape and villages is becoming a major choice for leisure, allowing urban population to reconnect with the tradition and – no less importantly – with clean environment and fresh food arriving directly from a farm.

 

Marica Dražić, CAA (10/02/2017)