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University LINKs Scheme

Utrecht University (The Netherlands)



Dr Rebecca Nordquist
Dept of Farm Animal Health
Email: r.e.nordquist1@uu.nl




Dr Vivian Goerlich-Jansson
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
Email: V.C.Goerlich-Jansson@uu.nl






With the support of the UFAW LINK scheme, 26 ‘Ethology and Welfare’ MSc students from Utrecht University, with their supervisor Dr Vivian Goerlich, visited an organic dairy farm - Melkveehouderij van Zandbrink- Halleriet/ Boerderij tussen de hagen - to learn more about the challenges facing farmers in The Netherlands. This family run farm is looking to change the way it keeps and cares for their animals; major drivers for change being improvements to the welfare of their cattle, better sustainability and decreased environmental impact/footprint.

The students looked around the farm and undertook an ‘animal welfare risk assessment’ as part of the visit, taking notes on factors potentially affecting the welfare of the dairy cows. Based on a calculation of impact, the students ranked the priority of potential negative (hazard) and positive (opportunity) consequences. They then discussed with the farmer how such risk assessments can help farmers in their future management decisions.

The students found the trip very useful, as many had not visited a farm before, and learnt a lot about the different aspects of animal farming during the day. Overall it was a very positive experience.



Assessing the risks to welfare of laying hens in an innovative new farming system
Utrecht University (LINKs: Dr Vivian Goerlich-Jansson and Dr Rebecca Nordquist)Thanks to support of the UFAW LINK scheme, student studying for a Master’s in Ethology and Welfare at Utrecht University were able to visit “Kipster” a new type of poultry farm system which promotes itself as ‘the most animal-friendly and environmentally- friendly poultry farm in the world’. Located in Venray, in the Netherlands, the farm has taken up the challenge of tackling several animal welfare concerns faced by farmers in the laying hen sector, such as the killing of male chicks, access to outdoor space, structural enrichment, sustainable feed production and air pollution.

Course supervisor and LINK Dr Goerlich-Jansson continues “During the visit the students performed a ‘risk assessment for animal welfare’, noting factors in the environment and management that might negatively (and positively) affect the welfare of the laying hens. Despite some remaining minor challenges, we were very impressed by the innovative concept of Kipster. Their approach, centered around animal welfare, environment and society, could inspire future poultry farms systems.”

We hope that the visit proved inspiration and will help the students with the rest of their studies.