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Program Definitions

These definitions are designed to be read in conjunction with A Greener World’s published standards. They represent the definitions that auditors and farmers will use for program descriptions and auditing.

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  • a

  • Abnormal behavior
    Any behavior considered to be outside the normal behavior pattern for animals within a particular context, class and age.
  • Abuse
    Any physiological or emotional mistreatment of an animal including bodily harm, not providing adequate feed or water, not taking action to treat a sick or injured animal, unduly scaring or intimidating an animal or any other action that could cause suffering. Abuse is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Advertise
    Describe or draw attention to a fact in a public forum. Advertising could be either spoken word or written.
  • Agricultural land
    Land used for agricultural production, whether crops or livestock.
  • Alighting rail
    Perch or rail in front of the nest box that allows the bird easy access to the box.
  • Ambulatory
    Able to engage in an unrestricted walking pattern with proper weight bearing on all legs.
  • Amendment
    Alteration to the language or provision of a standard that is made or proposed to be made.
  • Anesthetic
    A product used to temporarily numb an area in order for a surgical operation to take place (most common use in animal production is "local anesthetic".)
  • Animal by-products
    Products commonly used as feed ingredients that are derived from unused parts of other animals, for example meat and bone meal, feather meal and/or manure, eggs and hatchery waste. Feeding animal by-products is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Anoxic gases
    Gases with no oxygen content used for stunning and/or slaughter of pigs and poultry. Because there are no receptors in the brain for these gases the bird or animal cannot perceive that it is going into an environment where there is no oxygen.
  • Antibiotics
    A family of drugs used for the purpose of treating or preventing the outbreak of bacterial infection. (Under the Animal Welfare Approved standards animals must be managed to keep them in good health and routine use of antibiotics is banned. Any sick or injured animal must be treated and this treatment could include antibiotics.)
  • Appeal
    A request to Animal Welfare Approved to re-evaluate a decision or standard.
  • Application pending
    An application that has not yet been seen by the Approval Board.
  • Arc
    A moveable shelter for pigs or poultry.
  • Arsenic
    A growth promoter used by conventional agriculture.
  • Artificial insemination
    Using an instrument to introduce semen collected from a male into a female for the purposes of animal breeding.
  • Audit
    A physical visit to compare a production system with a set of fixed protocols. All Animal Welfare Approved farms receive an annual audit.
  • b

  • Beak clipping-trimming-tipping
    Removing all or part of the bird beak, normally practiced to avoid birds pecking each other as a result of overcrowding or other production stresses. This is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Bedding
    Materials for animals to lie or sleep on, usually straw, shavings etc (see also litter).
  • Biosecurity
    An important management practice to prevent the introduction or spread of disease and hence avoid the unnecessary use of drugs (antibiotics).
  • Biotechnology
    The manipulation (as through genetic engineering) of living organisms or their components to produce useful usually commercial products (such as pest resistant crops, new bacterial strains, or novel pharmaceuticals). For the purpose of the Certified Non-GMO by AGW standard, biotechnology including, but not limited to meganucleases and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR), transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALEN), RNA-dependent DNA methylation (RdDM) and reverse breeding (RB), agro-infiltration, oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis (ODM), zinc finger nucleases (ZFN), RNA interference (RNAi), will be considered GMO.
  • Bloat
    The swelling of the rumen of cattle, sheep or goats from fermentation of green food, particularly lush clover pastures, which causes respiratory distress and, in very rare cases, death (also see feedlot bloat).
  • Boar
    An un-castrated male pig.
  • Body condition score
    A system of measuring how thin or fat an animal is by reference to a standardized scale.
  • Branding
    Making a permanent mark on an animal using extreme heat or extreme cold. Some state laws require the identification of cattle by branding.
  • Breeding stock
    A group of animals used for the purpose of planned breeding.
  • Broiler
    A chicken bred and raised for meat.
  • Brooding
    The period from hatching until chicks no longer need a heat source for survival. Heat can be provided either by a broody hen or by a unit containing a controlled heat source called a brooder.
  • Browse
    Non-grass material eaten by goats to satisfy dietary requirements. Goats given a choice will obtain up to 50% of their feed inputs from browse. Browse is normally shrubby taller material. (Browsing: finding and eating browse)
  • Buck
    Male rabbit.
  • Bull
    An un-castrated male bovine animal.
  • Bunk feed
    Providing supplementary feed from a fixed trough.
  • c

  • CAFO
    Concentrated or Confined Animal Feeding Operation. See Confinement Feeding Operation Beef and Confinement Feeding Operation Pork
  • Caged systems
    Birds or animals are kept in confined spaces, which inherently reduce the space and freedom of movement of the bird or animal. These systems are prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Calf
    A young bovine animal.
  • Cannibalism
    An abnormal behavior when pigs or poultry inflict injury and then consume blood or other tissues from others of the same species.
  • Castration
    The removal or destruction of the testes.
  • Cattle
    A bovine animal. Those kept primarily for meat are called "beef cattle" while the animals kept primarily for producing milk are called "dairy cattle."
  • Caustic paste
    A chemical substance that destroys the cells in the horn bud of a young animal when topically applied, so that the horn does not grow further.
  • Chemical shearing
    Use of an injectable protein that causes all of the wool follicles on the sheep to break so the fleece drops off. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Chick
    A newly hatched chicken.
  • Chute
    Walkway designed for moving or loading animals.
  • Clipping teeth
    Piglets are born with teeth known as needle teeth. Some farmers grind, file or clip these when the piglets are newborn as they believe that otherwise the piglets will injure each other or the sow. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards. (Clipping (needle) teeth)
  • Cloned animals
    Identical offspring created by artificial genetic engineering.
  • Cold
    Conditions when animal comfort cannot be maintained by provision of suitable housing, shelter and/or bedding. AWA standards require the provision of heat in these circumstances.
  • Colony
    Individual birds of the same species living closely together. Within a larger flock there can be small groups.
  • Colostrum
    The milk produced by female mammals in the first days after giving birth. This milk has a higher fat content than normal milk and is particularly rich in proteins and antibodies. A young animal needs to receive sufficient colostrum so that it can acquire immunity.
  • Comb trimming
    Cutting the fleshy crest on the head of birds. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Communal farrowing
    A system where sows have free access to both individual pens or huts where they can nest and give birth, and to a larger pen or barn area where they can interact with other sows in the group.
  • Communal nest box
    An area for birds to lay eggs that allows several birds to enter and lay at once.
  • Competent person
    Someone who has acquired the knowledge to safely and humanely carry out a specific task or operation.
  • Compliant
    Conforming to requirements or standards.
  • Cone
    A cone shaped restraining tool into which poultry can be placed immediately prior to stunning and slaughter to keep them still.
  • Confinement feeding
    The practice of raising farmed animals in confinement at a high stocking density. Animals do not have access to pasture or range and are raised on concrete, slats or bare earth.
  • Controlled Atmosphere Killing
    A process by which animals and birds are exposed to a mixture of gases in the air that, through breathing in, will kill the animals or birds.
  • Controlled Atmosphere Stunning
    A process by which animals and birds are exposed to a mixture of gases in the air that, through breathing in, will induce the animals or birds into unconsciousness.
  • Cooperative
    An organization formed by a group of farmers to achieve some or all of the advantages of large-scale marketing, purchasing and education. (agricultural)
  • Cornstover
    The dried remains of leaves and stalks after harvesting maize.
  • Cow
    A female bovine animal that has borne a calf.
  • Cow-calf operation
    The keeping of a breeding herd of cows and production of weaned calves.
  • Critically Non-Compliant
    A farm is CNC when at audit it is found not to comply with standards that are deemed critical to ensuring good welfare.
  • Crush
    A device specifically designed to hold an animal safely during a procedure that requires restraint of the animal.
  • Cubicle
    Partitioned compartment in a building, usually with a raised curb of a size that allows one dairy animal to enter and lie down.
  • Cull
    An unproductive or unsuitable animal or bird selected for removal from the herd or flock.
  • Culling
    Permanent removal of animals or birds from a herd or flock.
  • d

  • Daytime
    Daytime starts within 2 hours of sunrise and ends at sunset.
  • De-beaking
    The removal of part of the beak or bill of birds. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards. (see also de-billing, beak clipping, tipping and trimming)
  • De-billing
    The removal of part of the beak or bill of birds. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards. (see also de-billing, beak clipping, tipping and trimming)
  • De-clawing
    The removal of the claws or toes of birds. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards. (see also De-toeing)
  • De-horn
    The removal of an adult animal's horns (see also disbud). This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • De-scenting
    Removing the scent glands near the base of the horns of male goats. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • De-snooding
    The removal of the snood or fleshy bit on the beaks of turkeys. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • De-spurring
    Removal of the spurs of male breeding birds. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • De-toeing
    The removal of the claws or toes of birds. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards. (see also De-clawing)
  • Debris
    Anything that would not naturally occur in the environment in which it is found. Debris could include scrap metal, garbage or fallen tree branches which could cause a risk to the animals.
  • Denuded pasture
    A pasture or pen where the majority of the surface area is bare earth rather than vegetation.
  • Depopulation
    The removal of an entire herd or flock of animals from the farm or production system due to sale, slaughter or euthanasia.
  • Derives a share of livelihood
    The farmer receives income from the work carried out on the farm.
  • Derogation
    A considered allowance given in some instances when the welfare of the birds or animals is not compromised such that a farmer may be given permission to do something that falls outside the standards.
  • Dewlap
    Loose skin hanging from the lower jaw and/or throat area.
  • Disbud
    The removal of growing horns or the prevention of the growth of horn buds in young ruminants.
  • Disc ring
    A ring inserted into the top edge of the nose of the pig - the most sensitive area of the nose - in order to reduce or eliminate rooting behavior. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Double-muscling
    Animals deliberately bred to carry a particular gene that results in a visibly distinct overgrowth of muscle resulting from an increase in the number of muscle fibers relative to normal animals. Selection for double-muscling where this leads to routine cesarean section is prohibited.
  • Downed animals
    Animals unable to get on their feet.
  • Dry matter basis
    A system of comparing or calculating the intake of different feeds by assessing all as if they have zero moisture content. (Daily dry matter basis is the quantity provided or consumed in a 24 hour period.)
  • Dual purpose breeds
    Breeds of animals and birds that are productive in more than one area of food production, for example cattle raised for both meat and milk production and breeds of poultry considered capable of producing both meat and eggs.
  • Dual system
    [production] A farming system that promotes some of its same species animal products under a humane system/label or by its own claims, while raising the remainder of its same species animals using industrial practices. (See also split production system). The practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Duck
    Female of the species or a generic term for the species.
  • Duckling
    A newly hatched duck.
  • Dust bath
    A behavior pattern whereby birds dig themselves a hole in the ground and flick dirt over themselves as part of a routine to keep their feathers clean and eliminate mites and lice. (see also dust bathing)
  • e

  • Ear tagging
    Identification of an animal by inserting a plastic or metal tag into the ear which may have an individual number printed on it or may carry a radio frequency transponder.
  • Educational purpose
    A farm that functions as a practical demonstration to promote and educate other farmers and/or the public about high animal welfare practices. Companies practicing dual production would be unable to use this derogation.
  • Electric cow trainer
    A device that is placed a few inches above a cow to prevent her from relieving herself if she is not far enough out on the platform of her stall by administering electric shock when she arches her back to urinate or defecate. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Embryo transfer
    A process to remove a developing embryo from a donor mother for implantation into another recipient female. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Environment
    The air, water, minerals, plants and animals and all other external factors that surround and affect a plant, animal or other life form.
  • Estrus inducing substances
    The use of hormones to artificially manage the breeding cycle. The routine use of this practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Euthanasia
    Ending the life of an animal humanely by using a method that produces rapid unconsciousness and subsequent death without evidence of pain or distress.
  • Ewe
    An adult female sheep.
  • Exceptionally high welfare
    A system that in the opinion of the standards board exemplifies or demonstrates welfare that has been recognized as an important example of its type.
  • Exsanguination
    Bleeding out of an animal or bird.
  • Extensive grazing
    A system where animals are kept with a large area of land available per animal and where animals may stay on one extensive grazing range for months at a time.
  • f

  • Family farm
    A farm rented or owned on which a family or individual owns the animals, is responsible for management decisions and participates in the day to day labor to manage the farm operation and its animals, and derives a share of the family's or individual's livelihood from that farm.
  • Family farm networks
    Voluntary groupings among independent family farmers for a common sales and marketing benefit.
  • Farrow
    The process of a sow giving birth to a litter of piglets.
  • Farrowing crate
    A cage or other strictly enclosed space in which a sow is confined to give birth to and suckle her piglets and where the sow movements are restricted so she cannot turn around or otherwise have free movement. Crates are prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Farrowing hut
    A hut in which a sow gives birth to and suckles her piglets.
  • Farrowing pen
    An enclosure in which a sow is kept to give birth to and suckle her piglets and in which she has freedom of movement within the pen.
  • Fattening period
    When an animal is being managed to be ready for slaughter and is laying down fat as well as muscle as it grows.
  • Feather pecking
    There is benign feather pecking, which may be part of the process of establishing a pecking order within the flock and should not be of major concern, and there is aggressive feather pecking where birds may be seriously hurting each other, leaving open bleeding wounds.
  • Feeder animal
    Animals being raised for meat which have been weaned but are not yet in the fattening period. (See also store animal.)
  • Feeding bunks
    Troughs usually constructed of concrete or wood that can be used to hold feed for cattle.
  • Feedlot bloat
    The swelling of the rumen of cattle, sheep or goats from fermentation of diets with high levels of grain which causes respiratory distress and regularly kills thousands of cattle per year.
  • Fertilizer
    An organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin used to supply one or more nutrients essential to the growth of plants. This does not include liming materials.
  • Filing teeth
    [needle] Piglets are born with teeth known as needle teeth. Some farmers grind, file or clip these when the piglets are newborn as they believe that otherwise the piglets will injure each other or the sow. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Finishing
    When an animal is the right weight and has the right amount of fat cover to go to slaughter for meat it is considered to be "finished".
  • Finishing systems
    The methods the farmer uses to bring animals to finish.
  • Flock
    A collection or group of animals or birds.
  • Flooring
    The natural or artificial ground surface area in housing, handling and enclosed shelter areas used by birds and animals. Natural flooring would include the ground or pasture surface. Artificial flooring would include wood or concrete.
  • Fly strike
    The infestation of a live animal with the maggot or larvae of a fly - usually on a sheep or lamb. Eggs are laid on areas soiled with urine or feces and the larvae then hatch and tunnel into the living tissue causing infection which if left untreated can cause death.
  • Forage
    Crops consumed in a green state by animals or those crops preserved by drying or ensiling, but it can also mean to rummage in search of food.
  • Forced molting
    Bringing birds into molt artificially, which is usually done by restricting feed and sometimes water, in order to control and boost the laying cycle. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Foster cow
    A cow that is rearing a calf she not give birth to.
  • Free range
    A system of keeping animals and birds where they can run free on pastures and ranging areas. Note: This is the Animal Welfare Approved definition of free range, the USDA definition does not necessarily mean that animals are on pasture.
  • Free stall
    Stall partitions the cows can enter and exit at will.
  • Freeze branding
    A form of permanent identification using a super-cold iron that alters the color producing pigment cells in the animal's hide so that white or colorless hair grows wherever the iron was placed.
  • Friable
    Material that is crumbly or easily broken with finger or hand pressure into small fragments (of litter or bedding).
  • g

  • Gait scoring
    A system measuring how well an animal or bird moves and whether or not an animal or bird is lame by reference to the scale.
  • Genetic selection
    The deliberate selection of animals or birds in a breeding program.
  • Genetically engineered animals
    The group of applied techniques of genetics and biotechnology used to cut up and join together genetic material and especially DNA from one or more species of organism and to introduce the result into an organism in order to change one or more of its characteristics. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)
    An organism whose genome has been artificially altered through biotechnology to express traits that would not naturally occur as a result of traditional breeding or natural recombination. Scientific methods used to produce GMOs include reproductive cloning.
  • Gestation crate
    Cage or stall in which a sow is confined for the period of pregnancy and in which she has restricted options of movement. Crates are prohibited under the Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Gilt
    A young female pig that has not produced a litter.
  • Gizzard
    The muscular stomach of a bird in which food is ground up.
  • Glue boards
    A tray or board coated in a sticky adhesive that captures and immobilizes rodents on contact.
  • Goggles
    Device attached to a bird's beak to make it harder for them to see each other. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Good standing
    Status of a business (farm or slaughter plant) which has been audited or reviewed within the required schedule and is in compliance with all AWA standards OR has an approved corrective action plan, the conditions and timelines of which are being met. Businesses must not have taken any action since their last review or audit that could affect compliance with AWA standards and must not have been found guilty of any animal welfare offenses. For farms, compliance with AWA standards includes using AWA recommended slaughter plants.
  • Grassland
    An area where grasses and forbs (non-woody, flowering plants) are the dominant type of plant cover.
  • Grinding teeth
    [needle] Piglets are born with teeth known as needle teeth. Some farmers grind, file or clip these when the piglets are newborn as they believe that otherwise the piglets will injure each other or the sow. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Grit
    Small fragments of various substances fed to poultry, including soluble grit, to balance calcium lost by egg laying birds, and insoluble grit, such as flint, to assist the gizzard in grinding food.
  • Growth promoters
    A substance included in an animal or bird's feed which improves feed conversion and /or increases daily weight gain. Antibiotics can act as growth promoters. Growth promoters are prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Growth rate
    How fast an animal or bird grows that can be expressed as daily live weight gain or average live weight gain.
  • h

  • Hatchery
    The premises devoted to hatching eggs.
  • Health plan
    A structured and proactive plan assessing the health status of birds or animals on a farm and giving information on steps to preempt, treat, eliminate or reduce any disease or disease risks.
  • Heavy Metals
    Toxic metals including lead, mercury, cadmium, and chromium. The metals iron, copper, zinc, aluminum, beryllium, cobalt, manganese and arsenic are also considered heavy metals by AWA.
  • Heifer
    A young female bovine animal that has not yet had a calf.
  • Hen
    A female fowl.
  • Herbaceous matter
    Low growing non-woody perennial plants.
  • Herd
    A group of animals living together -particularly refers to cattle- that most likely have been put together for management purposes.
  • Herding dog
    A dog that by genetic predisposition and through proper training, possesses the skills to move animals effectively and humanely with minimal physical contact.
  • High risk
    Products that are genetically modified and grown on a large scale. High-risk products include crops that are commonly found in food products and animal feeds, either as the harvested crop or as a by-product.  
  • High welfare practices
    Practices to ensure that animals can exhibit their natural behaviors; have suitable feed and water; are not subject to discomfort, pain, injury and disease and are not subject to fear and stress.
  • Hole punching
    Punching a hole in the area between the toes of poultry for identification purposes. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Homeopathy
    A system of healing by using incredibly dilute solutions of substances that in full strength would cause similar symptoms to the disease being treated.
  • Hot branding
    A method of identifying an animal by burning a mark onto its hide with a hot iron.
  • Hot iron cauterization
    Removing the horn buds of cattle and goats using a hot iron, a tool that is heated then applied to the bud.
  • Hot prod
    Handheld object also known as 'electric prod' and 'hot shot' used to administer an electric shock when an animal is touched with it. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Housing
    A building with a roof and four walls that can also be used as a shelter. (See also shelter.)
  • Humane
    Raising animals with kindness, consideration, according to their needs, and without cruelty.
  • Husbandry
    The care and management of the farm and its animals.
  • i

  • Immunocastration
    The use of a vaccine which affects hormone development to delay the sexual development of male pigs. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Implanted hormones
    Artificial hormones implanted under the skin of the animal that give a constant slow release. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Incubator
    A specialized machine designed to hatch eggs by providing consistent specific temperature and humidity. Normally 2 machines or separate compartments: the Setter, used for the first 18 days with movement to replicate the mother hen exiting and returning to the nest and ensure equal embryo development, and the Hatcher, used for the last three days keeping the eggs still and supplying a higher humidity for hatching.
  • Input
    Guidance or advice that may be considered but is not required.
  • Insensible
    Without feeling or consciousness. [also insentient]
  • Insentient
    Without feeling or consciousness. [also insensible]
  • Instinctive behavior
    Something an animal or bird is motivated to do and does without being taught.
  • Interdigital infections
    Infections that occur between the two cleats or parts of a cow or sheep's foot.
  • Interval feeding
    Feed regimes whereby double feed may be given on some days and no feed at all given on others. [also known as skip a day feeding]
  • Ionophores
    A type of chemical compound used as an antibiotic or growth promoter.
  • Irreversible unconsciousness
    A state of brain death from which the bird or animal cannot recover consciousness.
  • j

  • Johnes disease
    An infectious wasting condition of cattle and other ruminants for which there is no treatment.
  • k

  • Kid
    A young goat.
  • l

  • Lamb
    A young sheep, or the process of a ewe giving birth to lambs.
  • Laying hens
    Birds producing eggs.
  • Leg hold trap
    A trap with a mechanism that catches and holds an animal by its legs.
  • Lethal control
    The targeted killing of a specific wild animal.
  • Licensed hunter
    A hunter with the appropriate permits to carry a particular weapon and hunt a particular type of animal at a time of year when this is permitted.
  • Liquefaction
    Deliberately adding liquid to manure to enable liquid application. (Dairy solids and wash water may be stored in the same container.)
  • Liquefied manure handling system
    Where manure and urine are collected in pits or lagoons, often directly underneath the pens in which animals are living. The resulting liquid manure or slurry requires special handling and is usually treated by containment in lagoons before disposal by spraying or trickle application to grassland. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Litter
    Bedding for livestock, or the reference to a group of animals born to a female at one time.
  • Live trap
    A device constructed to capture an animal by enclosing it.
  • Livestock guardian animal
    A domesticated animal, which by breed or temperament serves to protect livestock from wildlife, especially predators.
  • Livestock guardian dog
    A type of canine animal bred for the purpose of protecting livestock from predators.
  • Loafing area
    An area distinct from the lying area within, where the animal has free movement and can interact with other animals. Note, this area may not be bedded but the lying area must be.
  • Look out position
    When a rabbit sits upright on its hind legs with its ears pricked.
  • Low risk
    Products for which no genetically modified version is known and where there is no known risk of cross-contamination with other GMO crops.
  • Lux
    A measure of the intensity of light.
  • m

  • Maltreatment
    See abuse.
  • Mange
    A skin disease caused by blood-sucking mites.
  • Manger
    A trough for feed.
  • Manipulable
    Possible to move or arrange.
  • Mastitis
    Inflammation of an animal’s udder due to bacterial infection.
  • Meat chickens
    See broiler.
  • Milk replacers
    A substitute for fresh milk usually presented as a powder to be mixed with water for feeding animals that have not been weaned.
  • Moderate risk
    Products where the only genetically modified versions are used solely in controlled/laboratory conditions and are not in commercial use and where there is a known risk of cross-contamination with other GMO crops.
  • Molt
    The process of shedding feathers to renew plumage.
  • Morbidity
    The percentage or proportion of a herd or flock that becomes affected by a particular disease.
  • Mortality
    The percentage or proportion of a herd or flock that die.
  • Mulesing
    Removal of strips of skin on the hindquarters of a sheep.
  • Must
    A standard has to be adhered to as directed.
  • n

  • Natural weaning
    Allowing a young animal to remain with the mother until nursing stops naturally.
  • Nest box
    A secluded area where laying hens can go to produce eggs.
  • Non-compliant
    Failing to meet the standards of the Animal Welfare Approved program.
  • Non-indigenous
    Animals not originally found within the ecosystem of the United States and directly or indirectly spread by human activity.
  • Non-point pollution
    Pollution that comes from excess fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides or manure from agricultural land. Non-point pollution may wash or erode off the field or farm such that it pollutes other land or water sources.
  • Non-therapeutic
    Administering treatment (antibiotics) when animals or birds are not sick or injured for the purpose of promoting growth or overcoming disease challenges that are inherent in the system of management. For example, cattle on feedlots may be given non-therapeutic treatments to try to prevent illness from liver damage due to the type of diet they are fed. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Nose-flap device
    An insert placed in the nostrils of a calf that stops it from suckling its mother. See also two- step weaning process.
  • Not Approved
    Has not met the requirements of the AWA program.
  • Not Known to Program
    A farm that has not applied to the AWA program.
  • Notching
    Cutting the ears of pigs, sheep or cattle to permanently identify them.
  • o

  • Organophosphates
    A group of synthetic chemicals mainly used as insecticides that has a detrimental impact on the nervous system.
  • Ottawa crate
    A type of farrowing crate that uses sloping bars to limit the area where the sow can lie, but that does give her the ability to turn round. The use of crates is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Over-sized litter
    When the number of piglets is larger than the mother can care for.
  • p

  • Paddock
    A fenced/delineated unit of pasture as defined by the farmer.
  • Pasture
    Land covered with vegetation suitable for grazing or foraging by farm animals. (Also see range.)
  • Pasture-rotation
    Method of maintaining vegetative growth and animal health by planned movement of animals from one area to another.
  • Perch
    Support consisting of a branch or rod that serves as a resting place for birds.
  • Pesticides
    Categories of toxic chemicals including herbicides, fungides, insecticides and rodenticides.
  • Physiological well-being:
    A state whereby the animal is kept not just with an absence of disease but in a state of positive health with the ability to express natural behaviors.
  • Piglet
    Young pig.
  • Pinioning
    The act of surgically removing the joint of a bird's wing farthest from the body to prevent flight. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Planned
    Something is planned when there is an intention to carry out an action, and a decision about what steps will be taken to achieve this.
  • Poaching
    Taking and/or killing livestock without consent.
  • Polled breeds
    Naturally horn-free breed.
  • Pooled product
    Mingling of products or animals of individual producers into a single lot.
  • Poult
    A young turkey.
  • Predator
    An animal that hunts, kills, and eats other animals in order to survive.
  • Predator control
    The act of removing, excluding or euthanizing wildlife that are or could be in conflict with farm or ranch livestock.
  • Processing
    Transforming raw ingredients into food.
  • Producer
    The individual or entity that owns the animals and products thereof.
  • Producer group
    Individual producers who agree to cooperatively pool their products.
  • Properly composted
    Waste material to be composted must be mixed with other material as needed to achieve a suitable carbon and nitrogen balance. Temperature in the compost heap should reach at least 131 degrees F (550C) and be maintained throughout the pile for at least three consecutive days. Compost windrows are turned as required to facilitate the breakdown of composted products. Waste is properly composted when it is totally degraded and compost has a consistent texture and appearance.
  • Pullets
    Young female chickens being raised as laying hens.
  • q

  • Qualified expert
    A person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of livestock in pasture based systems. Qualified experts must not be suspended from or have been subject to any disciplinary action from any relevant professional body.
  • r

  • Ram
    An un-castrated male sheep.
  • Range
    Land covered with vegetation suitable for grazing or foraging by farm animals. (See also pasture.)
  • Recommended
    The standard should be adhered to, however variations will be accepted as long as the goal of animal welfare is not jeopardized.
  • Required
    A standard has to be adhered to as directed.
  • Rescue animals
    Animals taken onto farms when they have either suffered harm or would be at risk of harm if not re-homed. Cull animals from other farms are not rescue animals.
  • Review
    An assessment of current practice against a set of guidelines with the intent of instituting change where necessary.
  • Rooster
    Male chicken.
  • Roosting
    Birds who are perching or resting.
  • Rotational grazing
    See pasture rotation.
  • Rumen
    The first of four stomachs of a ruminant, such as a cow or a sheep.
  • s

  • Scope
    The addition or subtraction of the number of species on a farm that are approved by AWA.
  • Septum nose-ring
    A ring that is inserted into the cartilage that separates the nostrils.
  • Sequential individual feeding
    A feeding system where only one animal can eat at a time.
  • Shackling
    Restraining live poultry at the slaughterhouse by suspending them upside down by their legs from metal hangers.
  • Shearing
    The removal of fleece from a sheep.
  • Shelter
    Something that gives animals protection either via natural features such as trees or artificial structures like buildings or shades, however, it will not necessarily provide the same level of protection as housing.
  • Should
    The standard should be adhered to, however variations will be accepted as long as the goal of animal welfare is not jeopardized.
  • Showing
    Temporary removal of animals from the approved farm for the purposes of competition, demonstration or education.
  • Shows
    Temporary removal of animals from the approved farm for the purposes of competition, demonstration or education.
  • Shows and showing
    Temporary removal of animals from the approved farm for the purposes of competition, demonstration or education.
  • Skip a day feeding
    See interval feeding.
  • Slatted flooring
    Flooring that has gaps or spaces in it to allow manure and other material to pass through.
  • Slaughter
    Causing the death of animals.
  • Snare
    A trap for catching birds or animals comprised of a noose of wire, cord or other material.
  • Social hierarchy
    Where each individual in a group has a rank, for example the pecking order in chickens where less dominant birds will defer to those higher up in rank.
  • Source farm
    A source farm is approved to raise and sell animals to other AWA farms.
  • Sow
    An adult female pig that has produced at least one litter.
  • Spaying
    The process of removing the ovaries of a female animal to prevent her from breeding. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Split [production] system
    A farming system that promotes some of its same species animal products under a humane system/label or by its own claims, while raising the remainder of its same species animals using industrial practices. (See also dual production system.) This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Squeeze Chute
    A narrow cage for the temporary restraint of an animal for the purposes of checking identification, carrying out treatment, etc., while keeping the animal still and the farm workers safe.
  • Stock
    Animals kept for commercial purposes on farm.
  • Stockyard
    An enclosure for the keeping of livestock, sometimes associated with the sale of animals and slaughter.
  • Store animal
    Animals being raised for meat that have been weaned but are not yet in the fattening period. (See also feeder.)
  • Stress
    A physical and mental state of strain or suspense that can impact an animal”s overall health, behavior and quality of the food product, stress is known to act as an immunosuppressant.
  • Stun
    The action of rendering animals insensible and unconscious prior to slaughter.
  • Subcutaneous Radio Frequency Identification
    Implantation under the skin of an animal with a microchip that contains details of the individual animal. The information on the microchip can be accessed by a hand held reader without having to necessarily catch and restrain the animal.
  • Subsidiary
    A site where Certified AWA animals are managed other than the main address listed for the farm whether owned or rented.  
  • Sulpha drugs
    A group of antibiotics that all contain sulpha.
  • Supernumerary teats
    Teats that are additional to the usual number of teats found on a cow (4), sheep (2) or goat (2). Can sometimes produce milk but more often are not fully formed and can obstruct milking.
  • Sustainable
    AWA believes that “sustainable,” when used in terms of food and agriculture, refers to food production and distribution systems which work in harmony with the natural environment and make the most efficient use of limited natural resources; which ensure high animal welfare standards; which provide a fair and secure income for farming families and workers; and which provide high quality, nutritious and reasonably priced goods to consumers. Truly sustainable production systems satisfy the food needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Note: When used as a food label the term is currently unregulated and undefined, so it is important to seek the specific definition from the person and/or company making the claim.
  • t

  • Tail docking
    The removal of all or part of the tail. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards, however sheep farmers who meet all other Animal Welfare Approved standards may apply for a derogation to this standard while they work towards the goal of no tail docking.
  • Tether/tethering
    To tie or tie up an animal using a rope, chain or similar restraint.
  • Therapeutic levels
    Targeted antibiotics used to cure sick animals.
  • Thermal stress
    Stress experienced when an animal is kept at temperatures higher or lower than it can comfortably tolerate.
  • Thrive
    A state whereby the bird or animal is able to prosper in terms of physiological well-being.
  • Tie stall
    An area where an animal is restrained for varying lengths of time.
  • Timely
    The appropriate length of time required to decide or act upon a given situation depending on the occasion.
  • Tipped horns
    Removal of the very end of the horns of cattle and sheep, without cutting into the blood vessels or quick.
  • Two step weaning
    A process for weaning calves in two stages where the first step keeps the calves with their mothers but stops them from suckling – although they can still graze and drink water – by fitting them with a nose flap and as a second step, calves are separated from their mothers and the nose flaps taken out.
  • v

  • Vaccine
    A preparation given to an animal so that the animal produces antibodies in sufficient number to protect itself should it be exposed to that particular disease.
  • Vertical integration
    The process in which several steps in the production and/or distribution of the animal production chain is controlled by a single company.
  • Video Auction
    A sale where cattle are sold from farm to farm, with the buyer “viewing” the animals via a video recording. Cattle could not be taken to a sale barn either before or after the sale. They must be shipped direct from the seller's farm to the purchaser's farm.
  • w

  • Wattle trimming
    The trimming of the fleshy skin beneath the throat of some birds. This practice is prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards.
  • Weaning
    The removal of young mammals from milk and/or transition from milk to a solid food as a source of nutrition.
  • Working dog
    A type of canine animal bred and trained for various farm tasks, including herding.
  • Working group
    Collaboration of stakeholders (i.e. farmers, consumers, etc) that works to research, advise on standards, and decide on actions to solve a problem or resolve an issue.
  • Worms
    Internal parasites.

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