Adding value to farm assurance
Research partners: University of Bristol, University of Newcastle
Industrial partners: AHDB Pork, Farm Assurance Schemes
Duration: 2006 – 2009
Aims and objectives
To examine the feasibility and benefits to the industry of including some on-farm observations of welfare outcomes within farm assurance scheme assessments.
To date these schemes have largely focused on resource-based assessment of, for example, facilities, space, water and feed. However, formal outcome-based observations of behaviour and physical condition of the pigs may provide a more direct evaluation of pig welfare.
The project aimed to have direct benefits for:
- Producers: useful management information
- Industry: maintain and promote the UK competitive position
- Consumers: improved welfare assurance
Five ‘core’ measures of welfare were identified by the project steering group for particular evaluation during the project:
- Tail lesions
- Body lesions
- Oral behaviour
- Pigs requiring hospitalisation
- The project steering group recommended that each of the core measures be included within UK pig farm assurance schemes
- They recommended that these measures be assessed by veterinary surgeons during the quarterly veterinary visit and by farm assurance assessors at the annual audit
- Benchmarking of welfare outcome data should be provided to producers and where outcome measures appear to show poor levels of welfare producers should implement changes following discussions with their veterinary surgeon
- The steering group recommended that 'punishments', such as non-compliances, should not form part of the welfare outcome assurance process, but that positive rewards for farmers who had good levels of welfare outcome measures on their farms could be explored.