Improving Animal Farming To Protect Human Health
Right now, we have one of the greatest opportunities to improve animal farming as well as protect human health. To bring much needed significant change to the state of farming, we must offer solutions as well as highlight problems.
Better animal welfare means less illness
We uphold the highest standards for animal welfare. Our organic standards ensure farmers allow their animals space and time to roam and root around outside. This way, animals build up natural resistance and remain healthier for longer. Our organic standards don’t stop there. Under no circumstances are antibiotics fed to entire herds or flocks when no illness has been diagnosed – common on intensive pig farms. Animals only receive antibiotics when actually required.
Innovative Farmers are discovering practical ways to reduce antibiotic use
We co-founded the Innovative Farmers network, part of the Duchy Future Farming Programme funded by the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation, which brings organic and conventional farmers together to share knowledge and discover solutions to challenges such as reliance on antibiotics. Such on-the-ground research groups are called field labs.
Two field labs on how to reduce antibiotic treatment of mastitis (a common udder infection suffered by dairy cows) have already produced positive results. The approaches piloted at these field labs could be applied across the dairy industry, helping to reduce antibiotic use and make high-welfare farming more cost-effective for farmers.
Measuring animal wellbeing with AssureWel
AssureWel is a collaborative project led by the Soil Association, RSPCA and University of Bristol, and supported by the Tubney Charitable Trust. The scheme works with leading certification bodies such as Red Tractor Assurance, and with major retailers, to improve the welfare of farm animals.
In 2014, the welfare of 16,300 dairy cows was improved by 129 farmers making changes on their farms using AssureWel methods - including more living space; better access to food and drink troughs; improved lameness prevention and treatment; and better lighting, bedding and ventilation.
AssureWel ‘welfare outcome assessments’ are practical, scientifically informed AssureWel techniques for farmers and vets to measure the health and wellbeing of an animal. This way, health problems are detected early and antibiotic use is avoided, or at least reduced.
Will you join us?
Working with farmers, we are making significant progress in finding practical ways to reduce antibiotic use. Yet there is still so much to do as antibiotic resistance continues to loom larger. Will you join us in continuing to innovate for the sake of human and animal health at this critical time?
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