Livestock farmers do their best to keep germs and other welfare and health problems off their farms. In addition to the "environmental burden" the animals have to carry, their "carrying capacity" also appears to be important: their autonomous capacity to deal with diseases and disruptions. This is what we call resilience. Thus, not only a safe environment, but also the "self-regulating capacity" of animals requires attention.
The experts from Wageningen Livestock Research develop methods to measure the resilience of animals based on practical indicators. We also investigate how the farmer can best stimulate the resilience of his animals.
Cows with a fixed rhythm
Our experts have examined the resilience of cows after giving birth. Cows that eat a lot and also have fixed daily patterns of eating, ruminating and lying down are more resilient. Cows that are clinically healthy according to all common scores, but that eat less or have a disrupted daily routine, are more likely to fall ill after calving. With a pedometer the farmer can determine the regularity of the daily rhythm of cows.
Pen enrichments for pigs
Piglets that grow up in an "enriched environment", a pen with litter and toys for playing and rooting, appear to develop better resistance than peers in a standard pen. They get sick less quickly and less severely after being infected with viruses or bacteria.
Practical dashboards for farmers
New indicators for resilience in various animal species are established based on the knowledge of Wageningen Livestock Research. The results are processed in decision-support systems and then translated into practical dashboards for farmers. This new way of working is becoming increasingly popular.
Ask your research question
We are glad to help you find an answer to questions about animal health and welfare. Please contact our expert: