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Why Should I Know About Animal Welfare Audits? - page 3 / 6

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NutritionalAspect of theAudit Programs

Access to water and quality of water are evaluated in the audits. Accessibility and non-slip looring in the watering area are scored. The animals’ approach to and use of waterers are observed. Feed quality and quantity are determined by observations and by records. All animals on the farm will be assessed for life stage appropriate feed. The percentage of cows that can eat at once and the percentage of the day spent at the feed bunk may be scored. Adequate feeders and bunk space are observed, and when possible, it is determined whether or not old feed is removed on a daily basis (checking for moldy or dampened feeds). Proper feed storage, including protection from the elements, proper labeling, and vermin control, as well as separate storage of medicated feeds, are scored. Toxic compounds must be kept outside of the feeding and resting areas. Each audit will have specific paperwork that is requested from the producer (and therefore nutritionist).

What Will it Cost to Become Part of anAudit Program?

Costs to participate can vary from $200 to 1,500 annually, depending on which program is used and other variables (Table 1). Auditor’s fees, travel costs, administration fees, and frequency of audits can all contribute to the cost. Presently, the cost is on the packers and producers with no incentive, yet. Because of the marketing system, agriculture can not fix prices to recuperate the costs.

What are the Advantages and Pitfalls of Audit Programs?

Problems with the audits include standardizing the system; presently they are not standardized by species, auditing firms differ, and auditor qualifications vary. Astudy highlighting difference of the DQAC, HFAC, and University of California-Davis (UCD) program indicated that

April 25 and 26, 2006

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selection of the available assessment programs for welfare of animals on commercial dairy farms is important to determine outcomes (Stull et al., 2005). Although the three programs that were assessed covered similar topics, the outcomes reflected the design, purpose for assessment, certi ication criteria, and differences in specific standards of each assessment tool (Table 2). Because of this type of problem, a national oversight program has been developed, Professional Animal Auditors Certification Organization (PAACO; http:// www.animal auditor.org). This group is comprised of animal scientists and veterinarians with the goal “to promote the humane treatment of animals through education and certi ication of animal auditors and to promote the profession of animal auditors”.

Summary

Animal husbandry should be equivalent to animal welfare, providing clean, dry and comfortable housing, nutrition balanced for stage of life, trained employees, pain control, euthanasia programs, and verification that these needs are being met. But back to the original question, why should I know about animal welfare audits? Firstly, to make an informed decision regarding participation in the programs that are offered. Dairy Quality Assurance 5-Star program is an assessment and verification/audit program. Validus is an assessment and audit program. Humane Farm Animal Care provides an opportunity to become certified for a niche market prior to participation in that market. Presently, you will need to ask yourself, which program will benefit your operation? Do you want or need to sell to a market requiring audits? You will probably eventually need to participate to remain competitive. Cost is presently being covered by producers. However, in due course, the question will become “Can I afford not to participate?”.

Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference

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