Research project Weidescherm

sheep in the shade

Project description

The project Weidescherm includes the assignment ‘Determining appropriate planting as shelter for animals kept outside’.

More and more people are paying attention to animal welfare. Moreover, our climate is becoming more extreme. Specifically for Flanders, more and longer periods of drought and heat are expected. Commissioned by Animal Welfare Flanders, BOS+ and ILVO are investigating how the welfare of cattle, sheep and horses can be guaranteed on the pasture by greenery.

The first work package of the project focuses on the effect of extreme weather conditions on health and welfare of animals and what preferences they have in terms of shelter, microclimate, fodder value, etc. Also the preference of trees and shrubs is taken into account (eg. wind tolerance, soil texture, pH, etc.), In addition, an overview of relevant legislation and financing options will be provided. Finally, based on field visits to farmers in Flanders with different types of greenery on or surrounding their pastures, ten inspirational 'farm portraits' will be published.

In the second work package, practical information sheets of different types of natural shelter (wood edges, hedges, orchards, etc.) will be made. These sheets offer practical examples and inspiration for farmers or landowners who want to plant greenery to provide shade or shelter.

In the third work package we will build a new user-friendly module for the ‘Agroforestry Planner’, specifically aimed at supporting farmers in making a choice of tree or shrub species based on their and the animal's specific needs and the prevailing growing conditions. The Soil Service of Belgium is responsible for the technical development of this new software module.