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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