This database was created as preparatory work for the Scientific Opinion on the assessment of dairy cow welfare in small-scale farming systems (EFSA, 2015) to collect data for the description and the categorisation of European Small-Scale Dairy Farms (SSDF) based on size, farming system and husbandry practices and (ii) to analyse the feasibility
in SSDF of animal-based measures usually used for intensive farming. The Scientific Opinion was necessary to address specific expectations of consumers on locally produced food and acceptable animal welfare conditions in the context of the EU Strategy for the protection and welfare of animals 2012-2015.
The on-farm survey was run to collect data for welfare assessment covering Austria, France, Italy and Spain. A total of 124 farms with up to 75 cows were selected based on three criteria reflecting use of local resources or enrolment in a certification scheme: (1) the type of enterprise (ownership and workers), (2) the use of inputs in the production process, including the use of local feed and local breeds, and (3) the production type (certification schemes). From 124 dairy farms visited 119 were considered as SSDF. Among the 119 farms included in the survey as non-conventional, some of them had a very small herd size (44 had less than 25 cows and one had only 10 cows) and some of them had more animals (19 farms had between 51 and 75 dairy cows).
The database includes 53 continuous and categorical farm descriptor variables, 23 continuous and categorical risk-factor variables and 47 animal-based measures in small-scale farms. The final data model used was based on data collection at farm/herd level, pen level and animal level.