Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau FiBL, 5070 Frick, Schweiz

Instruments for on-farm animal welfare assessments in beef production

Maximum animal welfare is a core concern in organic farming. With a view to improving animal welfare and making further progress in meeting animal welfare requirements, German and British organic farming associations have developed on-farm animal welfare assessment instruments. These instruments can be applied by the farmers themselves and in the context of organic inspections. In Switzerland, such aids are not yet available to organic farmers and inspectors. Two instruments have now been developed, namely the «Animal Welfare Checklist» and the «Animal Welfare Assessment Tool», which allow assessing and monitoring of animal welfare in beef production. The indicators used are derived from the scientific literature and combine animal observation (direct parameters) with measurements taken in animals’ environments (indirect parameters). Both instruments offer potential to improve animal welfare on organic farms without the need to amend standards, laws or regulations. Moreover, they enhance farmers’ knowledge of animal welfare issues and are set out so that they may also be used on non-organic holdings.

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