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Farm animal welfare assessment

Over the past decade, a lot has been written about farm animal welfare and extensive scientific research has underpinned the issue. Minimum standards have been imposed through legislation, and many retailers and consumer organizations have developed (partial) voluntary systems for quality control.

Farm animal welfare can be objectified and measured. Research programmes have established welfare parameters and practical measures were developed. Protocols were written for implementing farm animal welfare standards in on-farm and slaughter conditions. These efforts fall under the umbrella of animal welfare assessment.

An early example of farm animal welfare recommendations (and associated assessment) was the so-called Five Freedoms, a check list established by the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council and supported by Eurogroup for Animals. In a further extension and detailing of the Five Freedoms the EC-funded Welfare Quality┬« (www.welfarequality.net) research project recently delivered the ‘Principles and criteria for good animal welfare’. Based on the four principles and twelve welfare criteria, Welfare Quality┬« (WQ) listed up to 50 individual measures of welfare per species, the results of which can subsequently be integrated into an overall welfare score for each farm or slaughterhouse.

Through discussion and exchange of information, and the identification of best practices, EAWP aims to integrate practical systems of animal welfare assessment into all levels of the food supply chain. Widespread dissemination of  best practices is a crucial target of EAWP.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge from the European Community financial participation under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities, for the Support Action "EAWP" European Animal Welfare Platform, Grant Agreement KBBE-212326.

This publication reflects only the author(s)'views and the European Community is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

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