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£2.7 mln grant to improve UK farm animal welfare

The Tubney Charitable Trust has granted £2.7 mln for a new collaborative project on improving farm animal welfare in the UK.

The 5-year project is being led by the University of Bristol's Department of Clinical Veterinary Science together with the RSPCA and the Soil Association.

The research will look at the well-being of farm animals by using new Welfare Outcome Assessments (WOA), which measure the 'outcomes' of animals' welfare, rather than just focussing on the 'inputs' into their environment (such as space, feed and veterinary provision). As the ‘inputs’ are currently the primary focus of most farm assurance schemes in the country, this new approach will allow a much more accurate picture of the animal’s quality of life and how the welfare standards directly impact on the animal, reports the RSPCA.

Dr Marc Cooper, a senior scientific officer within the RSPCA's farm animals department: "This project will revolutionise the way the RSPCA's farm assurance scheme, Freedom Food, delivers and ensures improved farm animal welfare. Welfare Outcome Assessments, which offers a structured way to measure welfare, will provide valuable information to ensure the RSPCA welfare standards continue to deliver a high level of welfare on farms. Another benefit is that by regularly determining the level of animal welfare being achieved on a farm, any key welfare issues that need particular attention can be identified and addressed at an early stage before they become a bigger problem."

The project has two goals: to deliver the best welfare assurance within RSPCA Freedom Food and Soil Association certification schemes, and; to promote the uptake of outcome-based assurance within UK and European farm assurance schemes.

David Main, head of Division of Farm Animal Science at Bristol University: "The shared vision is that all assurance schemes, with RSPCA Freedom Food and the Soil Association Certification leading the way, use welfare outcome assessments to ensure animals have the best quality of life."This project is the most important contribution to farm animal welfare for some time and we hope it will influence the future delivery of farm assurance for years to come."

Related link:

Tubney Charitable Trust

Source: UK RSPCA

Natalie Berkhout

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