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Why Should I Know About Animal Welfare Audits? - page 2 / 6





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isolation is extremely stressful for them. Alternatively, an overcrowded pen is known to result in increased fighting and reduced and variable feed intake. Finding the parameters of a condition that we plan to evaluate (such as social contact) is essentialbeforeitcanbeevaluatedinthe ield. When confronted by one of these extremes past the critical point, animals can no longer adapt or tolerate the extreme and their welfare becomes compromised.

We must keep in mind that animal well- being is not just a physiological or psychological reality, but includes public perception. That public perception will likely involve anthropomorphism (attributing human needs/characteristics to animals) as the population making the perception is further removed from the farm.

The Evolution of Welfare Audits

Previously, not much progress was made by activist groups by addressing producers and packers, but a vulnerable link in the marketing process was found. Audits were initiated in response to demands of the People for the EthicalTreatment of Animals made of retailers. In 1999, the “McCruelty” campaign began and then ended when McDonald’s developed animal welfare standards. The year 2001 brought “Murder King” and later in 2001 “WickedWendys”. Both of these campaigns against the restaurants were ended as welfare standards were developed.

From these points of conflict, 3rd party audits were developed. Third party audits measure a producer’s or packer’s level of compliance against a prescribed set of animal care criteria. The driving force of the 3rd party audits has been the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR). Eighty five percent of food is sold in U.S. groceries through these organizations (FMI-NCCR Animal Welfare Program, 2003).

April 25 and 26, 2006

Presently the major programs available for dairy (Table 1) include: the Dairy Quality Assurance Center (DQAC) 2002, Humane FarmAnimal Care (HFAC) 2003, Validus (formerly Environmental Management Solutions, LLC, 2004), and Farm Animal Care Training andAuditing (FACTA) has audited humanely raised veal farms (Reynolds, 2005). California has developed its own program, California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (based on DQAC). The DQAC was developed in 1990. It features internal audits and 3rd party certification by DQA auditors. It was expanded to include animal care in 1995. In 2002, DQAC agreed to revise “Caring for DairyAnimals reference guide” to incorporate FMI/NCCR recommendations. The 2002 revision included: 1) adding a space allocation guideline for a cow to free stall ratio of 1.2, 2) recommended switch trimming to be used rather than tail-docking, and 3) specific guidelines regarding ages and methods for castration and dehorning.

The HFAC is the primary niche market auditing program. It is an independent non-profit organization developed through funding from the Humane Society of the United States, theAmerican Society for the Prevention of Cruelty toAnimals, and regional and local animal welfare organizations. The standards were based on the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty toAnimals’Freedom Foods program in the United Kingdom and the Federation ofAnimal Science Societies’Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Agricultural Research andTeaching (FASS, 1999) and were customized to U.S. farms by a scientific advisory committee. It requires additional measures that are related to organic farming, such as no use of hormones and traceability of feeds and products used. Guidelines for calves prohibit tethering, muzzles, or physical alterations to prevent inappropriatesuckling. A“Certi iedHumaneRaised and Handled” label can be issued which will add market value and the USDA-recognized label can be used for the products in stores.

Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference

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