Farmer perspectives on welfare outcome assessment
Recently, several farm assurance schemes in the United Kingdom have been adopting innovative approaches, such as welfare outcome assessment, into their routine procedures. This paper presents the findings of four consultation exercises, undertaken as part of a review process examining farmer perspectives on planned or implemented changes to their current certification visits. The farms were all members of UK-based dairy and laying hen schemes and the changes included the introduction of welfare outcome assessment by assessors, joint-scoring of welfare-outcome measures by farmers and assessors and self-assessment of welfare outcome measures by farmers between assessor visits.
This study also explores the challenges that arise when schemes are aiming to adopt a scheme-level continuous improvement approach to promote welfare improvement on participating farms. It highlights that the involvement of farmers at all stages in the development and in the evaluation of outcome assessment initiatives is likely to be beneficial for welfare improvement on-farm.
van Dijk, L; Elwes, S; Main, DCJ; Mullan, SM; Jamieson, J (2018) Farmer perspectives on welfare outcome assessment: learnings from four farm assurance scheme consultation exercises. Animal Welfare, 27 (1), p 1-11.