Monday, 21 May 2018

Proposal for farm animal welfare iceberg measures

Government has expressed a keen interest in the use of farm animal welfare ‘iceberg’ measures.  For example, discussion has focussed on the possibility of pig producers earning a premium for bringing their pigs to slaughter with intact unbitten tails.  To be eligible for the premium pig producers would also need to be members of RSPCA Assured, to ensure that a broader range of metrics are being collected and that good standards are being achieved.

This approach is attractive because it utilises a trusted welfare assurance partner to set general standards, and uses a single slaughter metric as the basis for additional payment.  This makes welfare payments extremely easy to administer. 

For other species single measures indicating very high levels of welfare are generally unavailable.  Instead it will necessary to focus on two or three metrics, which when achieved together indicate excellent health and welfare.  Some of these will be able to be collected at the abattoir, but other measures must be collected on the farm.

These are our recommendations, which could be implemented alongside improved legislative standards.

Finisher pigs
Slaughter metric
Headage basis for payment
Producer must be RSPCA Assured or Soil Association Organic
Outcome measure: Intact unbitten tail at point of slaughter 
Rewarding all achievers
Will require excellent system management to achieve better health and welfare

Broilers
On-farm metric
Whole flock basis for payment
Producer must be RSPCA Assured or Soil Association Organic
Outcome measure: Low levels of pododermatitis
Target should be set, which will requires standardised national metric and collection method.
Will require excellent flock and system management to achieve better health and welfare

Laying hens
On-farm metric
Whole flock basis for payment
Producer must be RSPCA Assured or Soil Association Organic
Outcome measures: Low mortality and good feather cover score 
Target should be set, which will requires standardised national metric and collection method.
Will require excellent flock and system management to achieve better health and welfare

Dairy cows
On-farm metric
Whole herd basis for payment
Producer must be RSPCA Assured or Soil Association Organic
Outcome measures: Low levels of lameness and low levels of mastitis and low levels of anti-microbial use 
Target should be set, which will requires standardised national metric and collection method.
Will require excellent herd and system management to achieve better health and welfare

Beef
Slaughter metric
Headage basis for payment
Producer must be RSPCA Assured or organic certified by Soil Association or Organic Farmers & Growers
Outcome measures: High levels of cleanliness (and no clipping) and low levels of lumps, lesions and swellings 
Target should be set, which will requires standardised national metric and collection method.
Will require excellent herd and system management to achieve better health and welfare

Lambs
On-farm metric
Whole flock basis for payment
Producer must be RSPCA Assured or organic certified by Soil Association or Organic Farmers & Growers
Outcome measure: Low levels of lameness and low levels of helminths and low levels of anti-microbial use 
Target should be set, which will requires standardised national metric and collection method.
Will require excellent land and flock management to achieve better health and welfare

END

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