Supporting and promoting animal-friendly husbandry and animal health


In Switzerland, society’s expectations for the quality of products of animal origin and for animal-friendly housing and feeding as well as for animal welfare in general are very high. These needs are likely to continue increasing in future as well as to change with globalisation and immigration, especially in terms of dietary habits. In sustainable production systems animals should be kept in the best possible manner to guarantee their health and well-being as well as to achieve optimal performance.

For the future development of animal husbandry in Switzerland it is important for the sector to deal with new social trends and needs, and to take responsibility in sensitive areas such as animal welfare, medication and resistance formation. Through the targeted use of new technologies, not only can e.g. resource efficiency and profitability in animal husbandry be increased, but animal welfare and livestock health can also be improved.

Scientific Objectives and Research Questions

How can animal housing systems and the use of animals be optimised with regard to animal welfare, animal health, and resource efficiency in agricultural production systems, whilst bearing in mind the demands of society as well as economic and ecological parameters?

  1. What behaviours are essential in livestock for maintaining well-being and biological functions (health, growth, reproduction) and to what extent must these behaviours be enabled?
  2. How can the well-being of farm animals, or their positive and negative states, be measured? What methods and indicators can be used to determine and assess animal welfare?
  3. What forms of housing and/or technical tools (devices such as feed dispensers, resting areas, floor coverings, etc.) as well as management practices (feedstuffs, manner of feed distribution, preventive health care, hygiene measures, bedding materials, climate regulation, etc.) meet the demands and needs of livestock and contribute to a reduction in the use of antibiotics?
  4. What feeding strategies can be used to prevent diet-related metabolic disorders?
  5. What are the causes of housing- and use-related diseases, loss of performance, injuries, and behavioural problems, and how can they be reduced?
  6. What are the effects of performance-oriented breeding advances (e.g. highly fertile sows, high-yielding cows, etc.) on animal well-being, and what services are still justifiable from the animal-welfare perspective as a function of the production system (e.g. grassland-based milk and meat production)?
  7. Which agricultural and beekeeping practices have positive/negative impacts on bee health?