The Level 3 Award in Farm Animal Studies will provide learners with knowledge around how best to promote farm animal health and welfare. The qualification explores how nutrition, accommodation and management practices can contribute to farm animal care and welfare. Additionally, this Ofqual regulated qualification contains information about the legislation applicable to farm animals and the role of that legislation in relation to farm animals and their welfare.
This qualification is of use to anyone working or volunteering in a farming environment and anyone who has an interest in farm animal care and welfare.
Unit # 1
Farm Animal Health and Welfare
Learn how to conduct routine health checks with an understanding of the principles of farm animal including how to spot the signs of good and poor health. Learn about common farm animal diseases and factors that affect farm animal welfare, including stress.
Unit # 2
Farm Animal Legislation and Welfare
Develop an understanding of farm animal nutrition and farm animal accommodation. Learn how nutrition, accommodation and management practices contribute to farm animal welfare. Gain an understanding about what legislation is relevant to farm animal welfare.
Farmland covers about 64% of the UK with around 280,000 farms. Farming can be broken down into either pastoral, arable, or a mixture of the two. Pastoral farming refers to animals (or livestock) and animal produce. The most common animals to be kept on pastoral farmland include:
Cows – for milk or meat
Sheep – for milk, meat or wool
Chickens – for eggs or meat
It is estimated that around one billion farm animals are raised in the UK each year. The health and welfare of farm animals, and sustainable practice are high priorities for farmers. This is supported by animal welfare legislation.
Animal welfare legislation
Protection of all animals, regardless of environment or species, is crucial to their physical welfare and quality of life. The UK government has a duty to ensure that all animals, including farming livestock, are protected from neglect and cruelty.
The Animal Welfare Act (2006) includes the concept of The Five Freedoms, which are:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst
- Freedom from discomfort
- Freedom from pain, injury and disease
- Freedom to express normal behaviour
- Freedom from fear and distress
Having an understanding of animal welfare and the associated legal responsibilities is crucial to the physical health and overall welfare of farm animals.
Farm Animal Welfare
If you wanted to set up your own farm business but you had never farmed land or animals before, what would be the first steps to take to ensure the animals you farmed had all of their needs provided for? It’s important to take into consideration the farming species, country of origin and the importance of acts and legislation passed by government to promote overall good health and welfare standards, as cited in the Five Freedoms Act. Inadequate care and attention of animals can occur just as easily through not knowing what you are doing as it can through knowing what you are doing is wrong.
It is always recommended that experienced and well-trained animal carers be employed to oversee animal husbandry and management. Spending adequate time per day observing normal behaviour will save you time in the future wondering what the problem could be. Always observe each animal in your care and keep notes on them to transfer between stocksman and handlers.
Consider how much the animal is eating and drinking per day, their housing standards and stimuli to engage the individual. Being able to differentiate between normal and abnormal behaviour is integral to the animal welfare process. Abnormal stereotypical behaviours are usually very obvious and include repetitive activities like pacing, head shaking and rocking. It is important to know how an animal’s behaviour has changed and it is advisable that you consider possible impacts on an animal that have resulted in repetitive behaviour.
Being sympathetic to the animal environment you provide for your animals is crucial to their mental health and overall welfare. Routines are notoriously things that human beings complain about and no doubt if animals could express how they felt about the cycle of entrapment, they would say similarly. Predictability of being fed, given water, waking up and going to bed at set times can bring comfort to some such as the domesticated cat, but once their environment and social interaction becomes restricted then difficulties begin to arise, in behavioural changes. The basic requirements are set and ascertained, but the means to nurture the mind and exercise the body are overlooked.
Farm Animal Environmental Enrichment
Environmental enrichment involves integrating activities that an animal would experience in the wild or through domesticity, to make everyday life more engaging. The idea of enrichment comes from allowing the animal to use their natural senses to navigate round the enclosure to locate food items, to smell something unfamiliar, or to allow the animal to solve a problem. Enrichment is designed to create stimulation for bored animals. It can be as simple as moving round the furniture or it can be as complex as creating a gymnasium. If the animal usually forages then create an enrichment device, which allows them to forage for their food. Some animals will be motivated to find something soothing to touch, this serves to increase movement and stimulate the senses. Some animals are motivated by scents. Animals have an excellent sense of smell, which is often overlooked because we humans do not share the same sensitivities. Provision of something strong smelling will encourage animal movements and stimulate senses.
Most animals enjoy the company of other animals of the same species. Often, enclosures can be enriched through the addition of other species or novel objects randomly placed in the enclosure and swapped round. A tired animal is one who will not show stereotypical behaviours and will become quite lethargic very easily. Working animals require exercise to alleviate mental stress, they may also be given puzzle boxes to entertain them when work is quiet. Exercise is important to all living beings, as it helps to promote the functioning of the physiological elements of the body such as the heart, lungs and blood flow.
Additionally it also helps to reduce weight gain and promote good physical fitness. Endorphins are also believed to assist in releasing biochemical’s that improve the mood and encourage the positive association of exercising. This farm animal course also includes information on general health and welfare and UK Farm Animal Welfare Legislation.
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