UK Scientists Develop Way to Compare Animal Welfare Across Pig-Raising Systems

Cambridge University scientists have come up with a system of measuring animal welfare that enables reliable comparison across different types of pig farming, which means that animal welfare can now be properly considered alongside other impacts of farming to help identify which farming systems are best. Coming up with an overall measurement of animal welfare has previously been difficult because of disagreement on which factors are most important. For example, is a health problem more important than a behavior problem? What level of welfare is good enough? The new system assesses the quality of an animal’s life through a wide-ranging set of welfare measurements, reflecting a range of concerns about welfare. The results can be integrated into a single score to enable comparison across farms. Using the scoring system on UK pork produced through different labeling systems revealed that farms producing ‘woodland’ labelled pork products scored best for pig welfare, followed by ‘organic,’ then free-range, RSPCA assured, Red Tractor, and finally those with no certification.