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Farm Animal Welfare Metrics

The Food Ethics Council is working to help unlock the power of farm animal welfare metrics.


Good farm animal welfare is ethically important in its own right, but importantly good welfare also complements and underpins sound environmental progress as it is extremely difficult to achieve environmental improvements on the most intensive farms.  

Farm systems and other inputs have an impact on a producer’s ability to achieve good welfare, while outcome measures provide a robust basis for analysing success and identifying where improvements are necessary.  Metrics are largely focussed on outcomes.

The Food Ethics Council’s objective is that robust metrics on farm animal welfare are incorporated into key food indexes and UK legislation. As well as working with index providers, particularly those behind the Food Sustainability Index , we want to influence UK Government and Devolved Administrations to strengthen legislation.  We want to enable public procurers and the food industry – and ultimately citizens – to readily identify, and source from, countries with production systems that ensure higher welfare standards.

There is currently a general assumption that suitable outcome measures are already being collected and that these measures are consistent across the supply chain. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Certainly some outcome measures are being recorded in most supply chains, but a wide variety of scoring methods are used, which makes comparison difficult. In addition, traceability to farm level is often absent.

During the course of this work we will make very clear recommendations about the best metrics to employ when monitoring farm animal welfare, and identify the primary barriers to successful implementation.  We will also work with government, retailers, and indexes to develop their understanding of farm animal welfare metrics as a key indicator of overall sustainability. 

This blog by project leader, ffinlo Costain, explains farm animal welfare metrics in more detail.