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Farm Animal Practice
A system for assessing cow cleanliness
  1. John Hughes

    John Hughes qualified in dairy husbandry at the University of Wales, and then spent six years on the family farm before joining MAFF's Advisory Service, where he worked on promoting dairy hygiene and the control of mastitis. Subsequently, in association with the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Liverpool, he became involved in the study of lameness in dairy cows and participated in research projects relating to welfare, housing and walking surfaces. He is an honorary associate of the RCVS and the BCVA and, in addition to an honorary lectureship at Liverpool University, he currently practises as an independent dairy consultant.


THE repercussions of modern farming methods and the trend towards intensification are coming under increasing public scrutiny. Following the outbreaks of Escherichia coli 0157 infection in the mid-1990s, abattoirs have imposed standards for the cleanliness of animals submitted for slaughter. It would seem prudent for the dairy industry to remain free from reproach. A high standard of cow cleanliness indicates limited exposure to environmental mastitis pathogens and is elementary to food safety, hygiene and quality assurance schemes. This article describes a numerical scoring system for assessing both cow cleanliness and nutritional status as defined by faecal consistency (which appears to be a dominant factor in determining cow cleanliness). It also suggests a number of practical ways of improving the standard of cow cleanliness.

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