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A prototype tool to enable farmers to measure and improve the welfare performance of the farm animal enterprise: The unified field index

Colditz, I., Ferguson, D., Collins, T., Matthews, L. and Hemsworth, P. (2014) A prototype tool to enable farmers to measure and improve the welfare performance of the farm animal enterprise: The unified field index. Animals, 4 (3). pp. 446-462.

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Abstract

Schemes for the assessment of farm animal welfare and assurance of welfare standards have proliferated in recent years. An acknowledged short-coming has been the lack of impact of these schemes on the welfare standards achieved on farm due in part to sociological factors concerning their implementation. Here we propose the concept of elfare performance based on a broad set of performance attributes of an enterprise and describe a tool based on risk assessment and benchmarking methods for measuring and managing welfare performance. The tool termed the Unified Field Index is presented in a general form comprising three modules addressing animal, resource, and management factors. Domains within these modules accommodate the principle conceptual perspectives for welfare assessment: biological functioning; emotional states; and naturalness. Pan-enterprise analysis in any livestock sector could be used to benchmark welfare performance of individual enterprises and also provide statistics of welfare performance for the livestock sector. An advantage of this concept of welfare performance is its use of continuous scales of measurement rather than traditional pass/fail measures. Through the feedback provided via benchmarking, the tool should help farmers better engage in on-going improvement of farm practices that affect animal welfare.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)
Copyright: © 2014 by the authors
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/23300
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