DAIReXNET webinar addresses farm animal welfare audits

An overview of farm animal welfare audit programs recently was presented by James Reynolds through a DAIReXNET webinar.

A recent webinar presented through DAIReXNET discussed current options available for farm animal welfare, audits and assessments. DAIReXNET is a national, extension-driven web resource designed to meet the educational and decision-making needs of dairy producers, allied industry partners, extension educators and consumers.

During the DAIReXNET webinar presented on February 8, James Reynolds, Western Michigan University College of Veterinary Medicine professor of large animal medicine and welfare, discussed current options in farm animal welfare audits or assessments, along with the value of these programs. Reynolds stated that welfare audits or assessments are designed to determine if welfare for animals on a farm is appropriate for that species. The assessments or audits can be used to assure consumers that animals are cared for properly and, as an internal tool, to provide a report to farm owners and managers of the strengths and opportunities for improvement on the farm.

Reynolds gave an overview of four farm animal welfare assessment or audit programs used in the U.S.

These programs are conducted by trained evaluators. A committee consisting of animal welfare experts has been established by each program to develop standards specific to the species and production system.

Data on animal care and management on the farm are gathered using checklists, questionnaires and animal observations. Animals are observed to directly assess lameness, body condition score, hock lesions and hygiene. There is some variation among the programs in the criteria used to select animals to be observed, with each program striving to assess a representative sample of animals in each herd.

Reynolds encouraged all dairy producers to participate in one of these programs. By participating, dairy producers receive a detailed evaluation of animal welfare on their farms, gain a greater understanding of the needs of cattle and develop priorities for enhancing animal care on their farms.

DAIReXNET Webinars
Other webinars recently offered through DAIReXNET include:

  • Lameness, Hoof and Leg Issues in Dairy Cattle
  • Managing Total Mixed Ration (TMR) Variability
  • Appropriate Drug Use and Residue Avoidance Practices
  • Human Resource Management – Being the Boss or Building Relationships

These and other archived presentations can be accessed at the DAIReXNET website.

Beginning in March 2012 DAIReXNET will offer a series of webinars related to heat stress management on dairy farms. Two webinars are scheduled in March with two additional webinars planned for April. Details about these webinars are available at the Extension dairy homepage.

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