Formal animal-based welfare assessment in UK certification schemes
Providing assurance of improvement in welfare outcomes is the desire of some UK certification schemes. However, this is only likely to be achieved if such schemes monitor welfare outcomes rather than rely on defining welfare resources that should be provided. The University of Bristol
has developed protocols for the on-farm evaluation of animal-based welfare parameters for incorporation into certification schemes. The assessment system is designed to provide credible (repeatable, valid and feasible) evidence for assessment of compliance with welfare standards in organic
and conventional farming systems. For issues identified as causing potential concern the assessor is encouraged to conduct further investigations of the relevant resource standards and, where appropriate, management requirements. Furthermore the assessment tool enables certification bodies
and relevant third parties to monitor the ability of schemes to deliver good welfare outcomes. Finally, it provides a mechanism for farmers to review their own health and welfare performance. The practical application of these systems is now being pursued by some UK certification bodies.