New Animal Welfare Scoring System Could Enable Better-Informed Food And Farming Choices

New Animal Welfare Scoring System Could Enable Better-Informed Food And Farming Choices
Mar 22, 2023

Cambridge University scientists have come up with a system of measuring animal welfare that enables reliable comparison across different types of pig farming.

This means that animal welfare can now, for the first time, be properly considered alongside other impacts of farming to help identify which farming systems are best.

This is vital for improving animal welfare in , at a time when demand for meat is rising globally and the way animals are farmed is changing—with concerns about the welfare of intensive and indoor systems.

Animal welfare assessments could also enable consumers to be better informed when choosing what to eat.

Britain has various labeling schemes for meat products to assure consumers that certain standards have been met. The team used their new system to test how the different labels compare in terms of animal welfare.

Farms producing "woodland" labeled pork products scored best for pig welfare, followed by "organic," then , RSPCA assured, Red Tractor, and finally those with no certification.

"We have shown that it's possible to reliably assess animal welfare on farms. This means decisions about which types of farm are better or worse for animal welfare can be based on proper calculations, rather than assumptions—as is currently the case," said Dr. Harriet Bartlett, first author of the study, who carried out this work while a researcher at the University of Cambridge's Department of Veterinary Medicine. She is now a Research Associate in Sustainable Food Solutions at the University of Oxford.

Bartlett added, "Now animal welfare can be included in overall assessments of farm sustainability alongside other measures like  and biodiversity impacts, so we can make better informed decisions about how we choose to farm and what we choose to eat."

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