A Theoretical Framework to Assess the Impact of Flooding on Dairy Cattle Farms: Identification of Direct Damage from an Animal Welfare Perspective

Animals (Basel). 2021 May 28;11(6):1586. doi: 10.3390/ani11061586.


For the economic sectors, the need to address the challenges posed by natural disasters due to climate change is an outstanding issue. To date, according to the European Commission (2019), there is still a gap in the estimation of the costs of flood in all European countries and the direct impact that these floods have on agricultural activities. More specifically, the damage to livestock has been minimally studied. The aim of this study is is therefore to identify the flood damage that affects dairy cattle farms, focusing on the damage to herds caused by a flood event; in fact, poor welfare conditions of dairy cattle directly affect production and thus farm revenue. To accomplish the aim of this study, a framework was first developed to identify possible damage types. Then, scientific literature focusing on the identification of flood damage to dairy herds was reviewed, and to quantify this damage to herds, literature sources providing information on the magnitude of variation in the identified damage types were used. Thus, our results provide relevant information on the variables that should be taken into account when assessing of the direct damage affecting the overall welfare of a dairy herd after a flood event. This evidence could then contribute to the development of tools aimed at assessing damage to dairy cattle on flood-affected farms.

Keywords: climate change; economic damage; flood impact; livestock; rural appraisal.