Compliance with cattle exercise requirement is important


<p>Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira and the Regional State Administrative Agencies carried out in summers 2009 - 2010 a control project regarding compliance with the cattle exercise requirement. Most of the heifers and cows in the inspected farms had access to either pasture or an open-air run.</p>

The Regional State Administrative Agencies of southwest, west and inner Finland as well as north Finland took part in the project in both years, while the Agency of east Finland participated in 2009 and the Agency of Lapland in 2010. As a rule, inspections were conducted in farms that were considered to be potential violators of the exercise requirement. In the summer of 2010, inspections were focused on farms that had in 2009 failed to comply with the exercise requirement. The inspections were carried out by municipal veterinarians by order of the Provincial Veterinarian.

According to Finnish animal welfare regulations, dairy cows as well as heifers raised primarily for milk production that are kept tethered must be allowed access to pasture or some other appropriate exercise area on at least 60 days during the period 1 May – 30 September. Requirements pertaining to the size of the exercise area have also been set forth.

In 2009, a total of 232 farms and in 2010, a total of 151 farms were inspected within the project. Deficiencies in exercise arrangements were found in a little less than a third of the farms; 28% in 2009 and 27% in 2010. The reasons given for why exercise opportunities had not been provided included e.g. lack of areas suited for pasturage, poor condition of fencing or problems related to the handling of the animals due to e.g. having to cross a road. Lack of workforce, sickness leaves, the old age and poor health of the animal owners or the owners being about to give up cattle husbandry were also given as reasons. In some farms only part of the animals had access to exercise areas.

Exemption from exercise requirement can be applied for

The Regional State Administrate Agency can grant an exemption from the requirement for providing access to pasture or an exercise area if suitable pasturage is not available to the production farm or some other area suited for exercise cannot be reasonable arranged or if compliance with the requirement would be unreasonable due to reasons related to traffic, terrain or distance. Exemption is granted for at most three years at a time and will be withdrawn, if the reasons for the exemption are no longer valid.

Evira has gathered data on applications for exemption from the exercise requirement. On national scale, the highest number of applications was submitted in 2006, when the regulation was adopted. A total of 237 applications were made then, and the positive exemptions were granted to 71 % of the farms. Most of the positive exemptions were granted to the farms which were about to give up the cattle to which the exercise requirement applied. The giving up of cattle was an acceptable ground for exemption, if the applicant had plans to give up the husbandry of these production animals by the end of 2007.

All in all, exemption from the exercise requirement has been applied for 273 times in 2006 – 2010, and exemption has been granted to 196 farms (72%).

For more information, please contact:
Senior Officer Helena Hepola, tel. +358 (0) 2077 24251
Head of Section Taina Mikkonen, tel. +358 (0) 2077 24225

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