An Approach to Sustainability for Smallholder Dairy Systems Trough Animal Welfare Practices
Maria Luisa Espinel, Sabine Schlüter
Technology Arts Sciences TH Köln, Inst. for Technology and Resources Management in the Tropics and Subtropics (ITT), Germany
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation definition, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) are procedures to obtain agricultural products by pursuing sustainability in the social, environmental and economic aspect. The Good Dairy Practices (GDP) were developed accordingly, with the main objective being sustainable milk production. A main issue for GDP is animal welfare. Animal wellbeing is the result of an adequate physical and mental state of the animal in relation with its environment. Regarding animal health and mental condition, adequate animal welfare has a direct impact on growth, reproduction and production rates, leading to a superior performance. For that reason, to keep animals in high welfare status is the base for efficient, sustainable and profitable dairy farming. Moreover animal welfare practices are a new trend for livestock production. The consumer's preferences for animal products obtained with humane and responsible procedures are a new market demand. The rising awareness for ethical animal handling, sanitary safety and quality of products and environmentally friendly practices are special concerns for consumers, hence they constitute new market pressures for the livestock sector. These aspects challenge smallholder dairy farming, but at the same time open opportunities for products from animals maintained under high welfare standards. On the other hand, the small producers traditional milking practices, low milk yields, adverse environmental conditions, misuse of natural resources and poor infrastructure obstruct good quality and constant milk production. In the case study area of Italva, Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil, we analysed the constraints and potentials to adopt GDP in relation to animal welfare, aiming to support farmers to increase production, achieve higher milk quality, obtain better prices for their product, accomplish sustainability goals and improve their livelihoods.
Keywords: Animal welfare, good agricultural practices, smallholder dairy systems, sustainability
Contact Address: Maria Luisa Espinel, Technology Arts Sciences TH Köln, Inst. for Technology and Resources Management in the Tropics and Subtropics (ITT), Betzdorfer Straße 2, 50679 Köln, Germany, e-mail: lespinelvetgmail.com