Red Tractor Assurance (RTA) has worked with dairy representatives to develop proposals that would improve the RTA Dairy scheme, by proposing key welfare indicators - known as Welfare Outcomes.The improvements require producers to assess their herds on a six month basis then review the results with their vet.During the routine Red Tractor assessment which is carried out every 18 months the assessor will also look at some of the measures on a sample of the herd with the producer. Trials have demonstrated that regularly reviewing herds for welfare indicators (including mobility and body condition) and mastitis and culling incidence will help identify where improvements need to be made and will drive herd welfare and general productivity.The proposals would also deliver a more animal focused farm assurance assessment and will facilitate the collection of information on cow welfare that could be used to defend the industry should the need arise.
Mike Madders, a Staffordshire dairy farmer and RTA Dairy Scheme Chairman, said "Having been involved with the development and on-farm piloting of the proposal, I feel they are practical and are valuable management tools that inform and prioritise action on underlying issues within my herd. The proposals would help British dairy farmers demonstrate the on-going improvements in welfare standards and the value of British dairy products."
Red Tractor is currently consulting on the proposals with producers via a short online survey and feedback provided by producers will be used to further shape the proposals.
Peter Dawson, Policy Director of Dairy UK said, "A move to outcome based standards has been agreed in principle by all industry organisations. It’s a logical evolution that is necessary to ensure that the scheme remains credible with consumers and stakeholders." "We need to move the scheme away from paper trails and procedures and focus on what is being achieved by farmers. This consultation is an opportunity for farmers to let RTA know how this can be achieved both efficiently and effectively."The consultation will now close on 22nd February 2013.