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Unit information: Animal Welfare Assessment: Theory, Training and Practice (Dairy Cattle) in 2014/15

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Unit name Animal Welfare Assessment: Theory, Training and Practice (Dairy Cattle)
Unit code VETSM0046
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Main
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Veterinary School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

The unit is intended to provide a theoretical and practical grounding in outcomes-based animal welfare assessment for professionals working in related industries. The unit will be delivered via a combination of distance learning (with academic support provision) and 2 days of small group teaching including practical sessions conducting welfare assessments on farm. Students will be assessed on two reflective essays in which they will demonstrate systematic knowledge of the theoretical basis, practical application and effective communication of outcomes-based assessment, including recent advances and limitations in research. The essays will include reflection on their own professional experience. Students must also demonstrate practical competence in applying relevant welfare measures, determined via online assessments.

In the first instance, the unit will contain theoretical content appropriate to multiple farm animal species but with a specific focus on practical assessment of dairy cattle. It is intended that additional ‘bolt-on’ practical courses will later be made available for other species.

Attainment of this module is suitable as a stand-alone professional development course or as a component of a wider qualification for those intending to go on to other further study.

The aims of this unit are: To develop candidates’ understanding of the fundamental concepts and applications of outcomes-based farm animal welfare assessment.

Intended Learning Outcomes

• Explain the various competing definitions and models of animal welfare and critique the methods used to measure it.

• Understand and communicate the rationale for the development of outcomes-based welfare measures, the scientific basis for determining appropriate measures (including critical appraisal of their use).

• Demonstrate an appropriate understanding of welfare outcomes and their application to regulatory law and farm assurance standards.

• Describe the statistical basis and evaluation of repeatability and reliability, and their importance in the appraisal of welfare.

• In the context of UKAS farm assurance, relate the role and limitations of the professional assessor in providing feedback, information and facilitating change to scheme members.

• Demonstrate competence in deploying selected measures to assess the welfare of dairy cattle.

Teaching Information

Students will be provided with academic content and instruction on the process by which to construct the reflective essays, initially via e-learning materials. E-learning materials will include Powerpoint-based lectures with audio content, written guidance, a reading list and interactive tutorials hosted within a dedicated course on a web-based platform (Blackboard) (or available in CD format). Students will also have access to dedicated academic support via email and telephone. The small group teaching will provide consolidation, supplementary seminars, peer group exercises and practical training sessions.

Assessment Information

Candidates will submit two 1500 word reflective essays, each constituting 50% of the assessment. The essays will outline the scientific, ethical and legislative background to outcomes-based welfare assessment and will identify and reflect on limitations, conflicts and dilemmas associated with it. The first essay will focus on the context of practical implementation; the second on effective communication of assessment to producers and colleagues. In both essays, candidates will relate their learning to their own professional experience of welfare assessment with appropriate examples.

Following satisfactory completion of self-guided online training materials and attendance at a practical training session, candidates will be required to demonstrate competence in assessing key welfare indicators via online assessments.

Reading and References

Appleby, M. and Hughes, B. (1997). Animal Welfare. CAB International. Wallingford, UK.

Grandin, T. (2010) Improving Animal Welfare: A Practical Approach. CAB International. Wallingford, UK.

Welfare Quality Assessment Protocol for cattle.

Keeling, L. (ed) (2009). An overview of the development of the Welfare Quality Project Assessment Schemes.

Main, D. et al (2007). Formal animal-based welfare assessment in UK certification schemes. Animal Welfare 16, 233-236.

Main, D. et al (2012) Welfare outcomes assessment in laying hen farm assurance schemes. Animal Welfare 21, 389-396.