Self-evaluation of animal welfare by the farmer: a report of application on Austrian cattle farms
It is not sufficient to merely publish regulations and strictly control them to improve the living conditions of farm animals. The farmer must receive precise information, understand the individual measures and be able to act with personal responsibility. A new animal welfare law has been in force in Austria since the 1st of January 2005. A system of self-evaluation is being developed for putting these new legal requirements into practice. The aim of this self-evaluation system is to enable every farmer to personally check his animal housing system against the given standards. This independent work motivates the farmer and makes him aware of animal welfare issues. This new strategy for the implementation of animal welfare law was originally developed, tested and found to be successful by the Federal Administration of the Austrian Province of Vorarlberg. Self-evaluation is to be carried out by means of specific checklists and manuals. Checklists and manuals are currently being drawn up for cattle, pigs, poultry, sheep and goats. The checklists and manuals will include all of the requirements of Austrian animal welfare legislation and will be formulated in easily understandable questions with 'yes' or 'no' answers. The manuals will describe the methods for assessing legal requirements on the farm as well as the conditions for compliance with legislation, and give advice on how to improve the state of animal welfare on the farm. This paper gives an example of the self-evaluation system for cattle farming.
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