Improving animal care and welfare: Practical approaches for achieving change

Helen R. Whay*, David C J Main

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

3 Citations (Scopus)


There are vast amounts of knowledge that can help farmers improve the care of their animals. Sometimes, it is difficult to encourage farmers to use them. Measuring problems such as the percentage of lame (difficulty in walking) dairy cows is effective for motivating the best producers to improve. Unfortunately, it has less effect on the poorer producers. Various educational approaches can help farmers recognize problems and motivate them to improve facilities. Some of these methods are visits from veterinarians and agricultural facilitators (educators), and charts to track improvements. A social marketing approach can also be used to help farmers take ownership of the problems on their farm. Another educational approach is farmers visiting other farms, and participation in discussion groups. Change can also be induced with the enforcement of standards by either retailers or legislation. Enforcements are most effective for maintaining minimum standards. One approach is to start with enforcements and, after producers improve, provide incentive payments to reward the best farmers. Benchmarking is often an effective motivator because it enables each farmer to see how he or she compares to other producers. It is recommended for measures that can be quantified easily, such as the percentage of animals that are lame, have poor body condition, are dirty, or have swollen hocks.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImproving Animal Welfare: A Practical Approach: 2nd Edition
PublisherCABI Publishing
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9781780644677
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2015

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