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Welfare Research Can Influence Change, Lead to On-farm Solutions

12 February 2016

ANALYSIS - Collaborating with industry partners, FAI Farms develops research programs that influence welfare and sustainability change in the livestock industry.

Karl Williams, Operations Director at FAI Farms in the UK, shares an example from the poultry industry that led to industry-wide change in Europe.

"Working with McDonald's UK, we were looking at how we could improve the welfare of free-range egg-laying hens. Part of that was really about how we improved the ranges, so it was about planting trees and cover for the hens to move and range into," Williams said.

The research program was was very successful, improving bird welfare and productivity.

Karl Williams, Operations Director at FAI Farms, talks about research programs at the Oxford, UK location and their results.  

"We got less egg seconds; we got more eggs laid per bird; end of lay feather cover was improved. Again, that's directly correlated to bird welfare," he said.

McDonald's took the research-based information and implemented it within their supply chain, explaining to their suppliers how they'd like their free-range egg production to be done so that it implemented these new welfare standards.

"We were able to help the supply chain implement what we had learned from a practical sort of standpoint on the farm. It was a very, very successful program. We got very quick change and uptake within that supply chain very quickly," he said.

"We found in 2014 RSPCA Freedom Foods, which is the high welfare assurance scheme in the UK, implemented range enrichment at 5 per cent within their standards. What we found is that has now influenced the whole industry."

FAI Farm's objective is to take science and research results and implementing it on a practical commercial farming operation, he said.

FAI Oxford is part of a network of commercial farming operations and research facilities in England, Scotland and Brazil that focus on Benchmark Holdings' 3Es - environmental, ethical and economically viable solutions. 

Sarah Mikesell, Senior Editor

Sarah Mikesell, Senior Editor

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