The following measures have been identified by AssureWel as being important indicators of dairy cow welfare. The criteria to select these 'core' measures included consideration as to how practical they are to assess on-farm. The full set of measures is now being implemented on Soil Association and RSPCA Assured farms.
- Body condition
- Hair loss, Lesions
- Broken tails
- Response to stockperson
- Cows needing further care
- Calf/Heifer survivability
- Cull and casualty cows
Download the AssureWel assessment protocol and scoresheet.
How to use the outcome assessment: The protocol can be used to assess the level of welfare achieved for an individual animal, farming system or farm assurance scheme.
- Producers - regular self-assessment of your herd can help monitor welfare and provide early indicators to identify problems. For more information and support on self-assessment see our Advisory Support pages or contact AssureWel.
- Farm assurance schemes, milk suppliers, producer groups and vets - formal assessment together with feedback and benchmarking can help to improve scheme assessment, farm management and general levels of cow welfare. For more information and support contact AssureWel.
Which systems can be assessed? The measures have been developed for all dairy systems.
How long does it take? The assessment takes around 30 minutes per farm for the sample sizes suggested so can be fitted into a normal herd inspection.
How many cows are assessed?
Some measures require an assessment of the whole herd or collecting information from management records. For other measures a sample of 20 individual cows needs to be assessed. However assessing a larger number of cows will increase the confidence of the sample and be more representative of the whole herd. Regular self-assessment of the individual cow measures is recommended for the whole herd.
Who can carry out an assessment? Anyone with relevant livestock experience can use the protocol. Training is required to ensure reliable and accurate results. Training is available through AssureWel, to find out more contact us.
How does the AssureWel assessment work with the other welfare assessment being completed on my herd? The AssureWel team has consulted with retailers, milk buyers and worked in conjunction with other assurance schemes to determine core measures that are assessed in a standardised way across industry. Therefore the AssureWel assessment will complement any other assessments being completed. Follow the link for more information on these industry collaborations.
How to improve performance:
- Use the measures to monitor change.
- Refer to our Advisory Support pages for guidance materials on good practice and improving performance on particular outcome measures.
- Support and training for producer groups, field staff, vets and companies is also available through AssureWel, to find out more contact us.