Animal Welfare Approved is partnering on a new project with Bristol University Veterinary School, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Soil Association to improve how animal welfare is assessed.
The "AssureWel" project will assess the outcome of standards, rather than just judging how well a farm complies with those standards. When judging compliance of animal welfare standards, an auditor will look at things like how much space an animal has and what kind of food they are getting. Outcome measurements look at things like animal behavior and health, as well as farm records on lameness incidence and mortality. By combining both the outcome of standards and a farm's compliance with standards, auditors will get the best picture possible of animal welfare.
"AssureWel" takes standards auditing to a new level of transparency and fact-based research according to AWA. Greater use of outcome measurements in welfare programs ensure that scientifically sound judgments can be made to confirm that the animals in the programs attain real welfare benefits. "We have always objected to outcome measures alone," said AWA program director Andrew Gunther. "They have the potential to hide negative systems. But this training allows us to use the best of both systems. It will ensure AWA stays at the forefront of farm animal welfare auditing."