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Cattle herd typology for epidemiology, surveillance, and animal welfare: Method and applications in France

Sala, C., Vinard, J.-L., Perrin, J.-B.
Preventive veterinary medicine 2019 v.167 pp. 108-112
animal welfare, beef cattle, epidemiology, herds, monitoring, sociology, France
Depending on the objectives (economic, sociology, epidemiology…), many different methods and data are used to classify cattle herds. The use of different and not well defined herd classifications makes it difficult to compare the results of studies between but also within countries.Our aim was to develop a simple and flexible, yet objective herd typology, that is adapted to epidemiological and animal welfare issues, as well as surveillance needs, and that can be implemented at any time and for any cattle herd. We therefore based our approach on the information recorded in the mandatory national cattle register available in European countries. By combining demographic data, in the French context, we defined nine groups of herds: dairy breeder herds, dairy breeder-fattener herds, beef(-suckler) breeder herds, beef(-suckler) breeder-fattener herds, mixed breeder herds, mixed breeder-fattener herds, fattener herds, very small herds, and herds with “other” production.This typology has been extensively field tested in France over the past four years by a wide range of users and, despite its perfectibility, was found to have very high accuracy. It is thus currently used for zoo-technical as well as research purposes. We hope that this flexible approach can be adapted to the livestock context of other countries where a national livestock register is available.