AWA AND ITS WORLD CLASS STANDARDS
We here at Animal Welfare Approved already have the best animal welfare standards in the United States, but we want to make sure we’ve got the best in the world and that they are truly effective. We are proud to announce that we have partnered with the world renowned Bristol University Veterinary School, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the Soil Association of the United Kingdom on the “AssureWel” project.
“AssureWel” will assess the outcome of standards, rather than just judging how well a farm complies with standards. We’ll be able to see exactly how well animals do over the course of their lives. Judging compliance of animal welfare standards is simple—an auditor will look to see how much space an animal has, what kind of food they are getting, and the like. But outcome measurements, sometimes described as animal-based measures, look at things like animal behavior and health, as well as at 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.
Using input and outcome measurements, auditors will gain deeper insight into the outcomes and overall quality of life for animals. AWA standards already do this in many areas, but “AssureWel” takes standards auditing to a new level of transparency and fact-based research. 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.
Four members of the AWA team have recently undergone “AssureWel” training with the RSPCA and Soil Association at Bristol University. AWA looks forward to putting that training into practice in the United States. “We have always objected to outcome measurements alone,” says 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.”
Dr. David Main, Head of the Division of Farm Animal Science at Bristol University, said: “We look forward to collaborating with AWA on the ‘AssureWel’ project to ensure animals have the best quality of life.”