At the World Dairy Summit in Belfast on Thursday (2 November), it was heard that customers of dairy companies such as retailers, restaurants and coffee shops are increasingly demanding information and transparency on animal welfare standards.

Dr Jennifer Walker, Director, Dairy Stewardship, of Dean Foods Company, a leading manufacturer of dairy produce in the United States, told the summit that guidelines produced in many schemes do not include sufficiently specific outcomes that can be audited.

Dr Walker told the Summit: “There is a need for standardised industry acceptance of what animal welfare standards should look like. Measurable outcomes that can be audited are an essential part of this process.”

Dr Walker said consumers want to feel good about issues such as animal welfare but the priority should be ‘what is good for the cow’.

Luc Mirabito, team leader for the International Dairy Federation’s guide to good animal welfare practices in dairy production and expert in the World Organisation for Animal’s (OIE) former Animal Welfare Working Group, said: “It is vital that the dairy industry evidences that farmers are doing their utmost to ensure high standards of animal welfare.

“The practical use of an animal welfare management system in a farm environment is a powerful tool to demonstrate good animal husbandry practices. To help achieve this objective, OIE standards and general principles can be used as a relevant and valuable starting point.

“On a global scale, the vision is to reach a world where the welfare of animals is respected, promoted and advanced, in ways that complement the pursuit of animal health, human well-being, socio-economic development and environmental sustainability.”

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