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RIA. Revista de investigaciones agropecuarias

versión On-line ISSN 1669-2314


MARTINEZ, G. M; SUAREZ, V. H  y  GHEZZI, M. D. Bienestar animal en bovinos de leche: selección de indicadores vinculados a la salud y producción. RIA. Rev. investig. agropecu. [online]. 2016, vol.42, n.2, pp.153-160. ISSN 1669-2314.

Animal welfare has been defined by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as the broad term used to describe how an animal is coping with the conditions of its environment, including animal health, perceptions, comfort, and other positive or negative effects influencing physical and psychic mechanism. For many years, genetic improvement programs in dairy herds aimed at increased milk production per individual; later, efforts were focused on making such yield increase compatible with a higher efficiency in food conversion. Throughout that period, all the productive system was transformed in such a way as to provide those animals of high genetic merit with the necessary environment to express their potential. However, this increase in production had negative effects related to intensification. The health equilibrium of animals with high genetic merit seems fragile. Accordingly, several authors have reported that this type of individuals have increased risks of suffering from mastitis, foot lesions and reproduction disorders and other events known as production-related diseases (e.g., hypomagnesemia, hypocalcemia) with respect to animals with low or medium genetic merit. All these factors affecting high-production cows favor the reduction in their productive life. The challenge in current milk production has taken a clear direction: establishing management programs associated with animals of high genetic merit so as to combine high production under the best possible animal welfare conditions. The study of useful variables for evaluating animal welfare in dairy herds has increased considerably in the last years, and a number of indicators are now available which are well documented for being included in animal welfare protocols. However, the protocols that have been proposed and applied until now are costly and difficult to implement, and are starting to be evaluated. There is consensus in the reliability of measurements based directly on the animal as useful indicators, such as body condition, foot diseases, mastitis and other more general indicators, such as infertility and mortality rates obtained from records of dairy farms that can be studied under our production conditions. The aim of the present review was to show livestock producers and technicians the importance of early detection of some health problems of dairy cows closely associated with production and welfare.

Palabras clave : Animal health; Productivity; Dairy cattle; Welfare assessment.

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