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Animal Welfare Approved Awards 2010 Good Husbandry Grants

Chick in grass smallAnimal Welfare Approved, the nationally recognized certification program and food label, is pleased to announce the selected projects for the 2010 Good Husbandry Grants cycle. This cycle’s funding priorities include genetics, outdoor access, and welfare improvements in the slaughter process. Twenty-eight projects in 14 states were awarded funding.

Selected projects include mobile housing for pigs, sheep and poultry, and stunning equipment for humane slaughter. A number of proposals were funded to incorporate breeding stock that is better suited to pasture-based management. “Choosing from among the many worthy proposals was a difficult task,” remarked Program Director Andrew Gunther. “But we are confident that the projects that have been selected for funding will contribute to positive developments in high-welfare pasture-based farming.”

Gunther continued, “Based on the success of last year’s projects, we anticipate a continued positive impact on farms and farm animals across the nation. As more farmers adopt sustainable farming methods such as those outlined by AWA, we all see the benefits – in terms of animal welfare, farm profitability and environmental stewardship.” A major emphasis of the AWA grants program is to assist farmers in reaching compliance with Animal Welfare Approved standards, ranked for two years running as the highest of any third-party certifier. Through these grants, AWA seeks to support the efforts of those who are exemplifying the best high-welfare practices, and also to fund the development of new practices that can be adopted on other farms.  “Farmers are truly the greatest innovators,” says Gunther. “What we do as an organization is set the standards. There is no single right way to achieve them, which is why we end up with a myriad of creative, industrious solutions that can be implemented how and where they work best.”

The on-farm benefits of the grant program often extend beyond the grantee, as an emphasis was placed on projects that could impact other farms in the region. For instance, a slaughter facility in Idaho has been awarded funds to purchase a stunning knife, facilitating compliance with AWA slaughter standards. The stunning knife will increase welfare and reduce stress (both human and animal) during processing. In addition to the inherent welfare improvements, this has the added benefit of making it possible for area farms to achieve AWA standards, which include using a compliant plant. One project in South Carolina involves setting up a local hatchery for non-industrial turkeys. The availability of healthy birds adapted to life on pasture will positively impact production among turkey growers in that area. Another project in North Carolina will provide new breeding stock to members of a pastured pork cooperative. These new genetics will improve mothering abilities, body conformation and suitability for outdoor management–and incorporate these qualities into the breeding herd. The resulting genetic improvement will benefit not only the member-farmers, but also other growers in the area.

Also funded in the 2009-2010 cycle were hatcheries in Wisconsin and Oregon (for chicken and ducks, respectively). The focus on poultry genetics is key to ensuring high welfare in pasture-based operations. Gunther explained, “Since most of the genetic stock available to farmers is adapted to industrial systems, we can’t expect those animals to do well on pasture. Our goal is to increase the availability of animals that are adapted to life outdoors on pasture or range. Pasture- and range-based management is the fundamental requirement of our standards – it is what sets us apart as a program and food label.” He went on, “We are proving our commitment to our ideals by funding projects that will have concrete, positive results for both farm animals and farmers.”

Selected proposals for 2010 include:

7B Bar Ranch, Roopville, GA, predator prevention
Albert D. Jones Farm, Chinquapin, NC, genetic improvement, pigs
Bedinger Farm, Catlin, IL, genetic improvement, sheep
Border Springs Farm, Patrick Springs, VA, genetic improvement, poultry
Carolina Heritage Farm, Pamplico, SC, outdoor access, pigs
Circle O Livestock, Vale, OR, genetic improvement, pigs
Coulee View Farm, Wauzeka, WI, genetic improvement, poultry
D&A Farms, Autryville, NC, genetic improvement, pigs
Davis Creek Farm, Lovingston, VA, improvements in slaughter process
Dogwood Nursery Farms, LLC, Maple Hill, NC, genetic improvement, poultry
DreamCatcher Farm, Louisville, KY, mobile housing, cattle, pigs and sheep
East Fork Farm, Marshall, NC, breeding system, rabbits
Eden Earthworks, Mountain View, HI, improvements in slaughter process
Ellis Family Farms, Benton Harbor, MI, pasture improvement, poultry
Generation Farm, Walnut Cove, NC, genetic improvement, sheep
Grassy Way Organics, Arena, WI, mobile housing, cattle
H&H Farm, Pink Hill, NC, pasture rotation, pigs
Hight Farms, Macon, NC, mobile housing, pigs
HomeGrown Poultry LLC, New Plymouth, ID, improvements in slaughter process, poultry
JJR Family Farm, Tebbetts, MO, mobile housing, poultry
Jones Farms, GrassRoots Pork Co., Beaulaville, NC, genetic improvement, pigs
Lil’ Farm, Hillsborough, NC, mobile housing and feeding equipment, poultry
M.R. Goats, Worthington, WV, mobile housing, goats
Organic Pastures Dairy Co, LLC, Fresno, CA, mobile housing, cattle
Patient Wait Farms, Piedmont, SC, genetic improvement, poultry
The Boondockers Farm, Creswell, OR, genetic improvement, poultry
Vargo Farms, Bullock, NC, mobile housing, pigs
Yoder’s Natural Farm, Bloomfield, IA, improved pasture and water access, cattle and poultry

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