Indicators to monitor animal health and welfare of livestock in Switzerland

August 20, 2021

Switzerland’s livestock population has a favourable animal health and welfare status, but how can animal health be quantified and monitored over time? Joining forces of several partner institutions, the Smart Animal Health project aimed to develop a method for the objective, systematic and reliable collection and evaluation of the health status of farm animals. Methods for collection and evaluation of animal health and welfare indicators were created and assessed on-farm. Target species included cattle, pigs, poultry and small ruminants. SAFOSO led the stakeholder engagement and established seven workshops that served as a platform for industry partners to critically discuss and evaluate the different indicators. Challenges such as the representativeness, validity and reproducibility of indicators were identified for discussion.  

Findings on the methods as well as observed challenges have been summarized in a report for submission to the authorities in charge. In the long term, animal health indicators may be used to conduct more targeted animal welfare inspections, monitor animal health and welfare over time and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions to improve the health and welfare of the Swiss livestock population.

This research project was established by the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) in cooperation with the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG).

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