Download the FREEWALK factsheet pdf

Develop economic sound free walk farming systems elevating animal welfare, health and manure quality, while being appreciated by society

Challenge - The development of cubicle housing increased labour efficiency of cattle farming, but it is a major factor influencing animal welfare. Also, productivity of grasslands and crop management systems has increased over the years, however soil structure, soil life and biodiversity of grasslands are becoming poorer. Moreover, a good integration of housing and farming facilities in the landscape positively contributes to societal acceptance.

Objectives - The aim of this project is to research and further develop economic sound free walk cattle farming systems, which improve animal welfare, longevity, manure quality and soil structure, utilize waste products and have public support.

Expected results - As innovative house systems, the compost bedded pack barn and the cow garden are applied with a completely free walking and lying area and are compared with cubicle barns for reference. Housing as part of intensive and extensive farming will be examined in a holistic context, encompassing the whole farm: bedding, artificial floor, animal welfare, health, longevity, manure quality, soil structure, NPC-balances and product quality. Greater insights in composting process plays a crucial role in the success of the system.

Potential Impact - The approach will deliver an integrated assessment of case farms spread over Europe, using experimental and modelling methods to evaluate system performance. Societal appreciation of the Free Walk farming system and products is assessed at regional level. A systems analysis and economical evaluation will be performed at farm, national and European level.

Coordinated by: Dr. Marija Klopčič - University of Ljubljana (SLOVENIA) - Contact

Funded by: MKGP, HBLA Raumberg-Gumpenstein, BMEL, Agricultural Research Organisation, MIPAAF, NWO, RCN, MPRV-SR, FORMAS and University of Kentucky as part of the ERA-NET Cofund SusAn through a virtual common pot model including EU Top-Up funding from the European Union´s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no 696231).

9 research partners:

  • AUSTRIA: HBLFA Raumberg-Gumpenstein
  • GERMANY: Technical University of Munich and University of Giessen
  • ISRAEL: Agricultural Research Organization
  • ITALY: Università degli Studi di Firenze
  • THE NETHERLANDS: Wageningen UR
  • NORWAY: Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research
  • SLOVAKIA: National Agricultural and Food Centre
  • SWEDEN: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • USA: University of Kentucky

More information

Research articles