A animal “is in satisfactory condition wellness when he is healthy, comfortable and well fed, he can express his natural behavior and is not in pain, fear or stress.” This means that the concept of animal welfare encompasses the physical and emotional state of these living beings, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (WHO).
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The principles that guide the concept of welfare, used in this case for production animals, are known as the 5 freedoms model developed by this international organization, which implies that they are free from fear and anguish, free to express their behavior natural, free from pain, injury and disease, free from thermal physical discomfort and free from hunger, thirst and malnutrition.
The physical part of these parameters is easily understandable, but an example is worth pointing out what the emotional part is about. In some regions of Latin America, the flight distance of a bovine can reach 30 meters. What does this mean? It is the space that, in case of being invaded, will provoke the flight of that individual or of the group. On the other hand, it is usual in rodeos in Argentina for a person to approach —with the appropriate care— and touch a cow that is grazing without the animal feeling afraid to leave, that is, its life experience without stress or with minimal stress makes him confident that there will be no danger.
A few days ago the company Mastellone Hermanos, manufacturer of La Serenissima products, became the first dairy company Argentina and the region to obtain the certification of its Animal Welfare Management system following the guidelines of ISO 34,700 (ISO, 2016), granted by the IRAM.
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“With this seal, the objective is to promote a dairy activity in which animals are treated with respect, care and in accordance with ethical and animal welfare standards,” company executives explained. It is a “management strategy to facilitate the application and integration of animal welfare principles in our milk suppliers” in such a way as to “establish and promote the culture of animal welfare in our chain” of production, said Luis Demicheli, Manager of Management Systems and Sustainability of the company.
It was also Demicheli who, at a press conference, explained that the respectful treatment of the animal, in accordance with the existing ethical and welfare standards “is a pillar to ensure a raw material sustainable”that is, he pointed out, “well-cared-for cows give the best milk and this allows us to produce top-quality products.”
That is to say, “behind the milk obtained under these actions, there are numerous benefits that contribute, not only to the quality of the raw material, but also to the sustainability of the activity, since it improves the welfare of animals and the environment. around them,” he said.
Mastellone developed “a management system that has an Animal Welfare Evaluation Protocol in dairy establishments that, through an exhaustive survey, will serve as a guide to improve and manage the optimal comfort and health conditions of the animals. This work commitment aims to seek that all the animals involved in milk production develop and live in adequate conditions of well-being, ”she reported.
The company, which has more than 90 years of history, has some 600 establishments that supply it with milk for the production of its products, with a total of approximately 200,000 adult cows and 300,000 animals from other categories such as calves and heifers. Most of these dairy farms are in the province of Buenos Aires, to which are added others in Córdoba, Santa Fe, Entre Ríos, La Pampa, San Luis and Río Negro.
The management system that is being implemented since it began to seek its IRAM certification “promotes the culture of animal welfare throughout the value chain”, not only by producers, but also by consumers, so that they “begin to understand what animal welfare is,” said Demicheli.
The manager pointed out that it was this year that the company began with “the implementation of the first Animal Welfare (BA) program under the guidelines of ISO standards”, and clarified that the certification implies “long-term work” to promote the necessary changes. in establishments that require it.
To ensure the transparency of this commitment, he said that it was chosen to work with renowned institutions that provide security and guidance during the process. That is why IRAM was used, who certified the guidelines and requirements to be met so that all the animals involved in the dairy activity develop and live in adequate conditions of well-being.
“We have developed a protocol for the evaluation of animal welfare in dairy establishments that, through an exhaustive survey of the same, serves as a guide to achieve optimal conditions of comfort and health for the animals. To ensure the transparency of this commitment, IRAM certifies the animal welfare management system that complies with the guidelines of the 5 freedoms and based on IRAM-ISO/TS 34700″, explained Demicheli.
The company has 15 veterinarians and agronomists dedicated to the implementation of the protocol in the farms, based on more than 25 evaluation criteria for animal welfare and 65 control points in each farm surveyed. Based on this, exhaustive surveys are already being carried out in all the dairy farms that supply it.
Producers receive training, advice and support, including financial support, if necessary, although the company pointed out that the application of regulations in this regard does not necessarily imply infrastructure adaptations or other investments. Even when they will be subject to audits to evaluate the progress in the treatment of animals, Demicheli clarified that the lack of compliance will not imply the elimination of the establishment as a supplier of Mastellone, but rather it will reinforce the support and advice to allow them to advance in that sense.
The IRAM certification in Animal Welfare is already in the sight of consumers, because the milk available in the gondolas includes the respective seal on its container, then the categories of soft cheeses, creams, butter and the rest of the products will be added.