Report / Animal welfare workshop / Tuesday 26 March 2019 / Paris
On Tuesday 26 March, Applifarm - the leading livestock farming data sharing, valuation and traceability platform - organised a workshop focused on animal welfare (AW), held at the Village by CA in Paris. Various stakeholders from this sector were convened to discover the speakers’ suggestions to help enhance practices in favour of animal welfare.
Animal welfare: a complex question in a troubled context
Over 70 participants representing 5 sectors (Dairy / Bovine meat / Poultry & ducks / Pork / Sea & aquaculture) came to discuss this topic, led by seven different speakers.
The latter shared their expertise and experience in the matter, in a context where food scandals are constantly questioning livestock farming practices. Consumers need to be reassured and made aware of traceability regarding the food products they eat.
An IFOP survey from 2018 revealed that 92% of the French population consider animal welfare to be an important topic. Conversely, according to the same survey, only 41% deem the current animal welfare situation as satisfactory.
With these observations in mind, professionals from this sector are looking to bring solutions to the table and implement actions that could help enforce new practices. Some of these solutions were broached on 26 March during the workshop dedicated to animal welfare.
Using data to develop indicators and repositories
NGOs such as CIWF aim to improve living conditions for animals bred in farms. During the workshop on 26 March, Dr Lucille Bellegarde - in charge of agro-food projects - presented the various actions implemented by CIWF in favour of animal welfare. In addition to informing and raising awareness, the NGO also offers change management strategies to agro-food stakeholders - from production all the way to distribution. In more concrete terms, an association named the "Animal Welfare Label" was developed in partnership with the O.A.B.A, the Foundation for Animal Rights and the Casino Group. Its goal? To build up a sound repository, define an assessment system and compare this repository with real in-field situations, so an audit and control system could then be defined and so a label easily understandable by everyone could be elaborated.
Solutions to be used by livestock farmers for improving animal welfare already exist, namely through the use of measurement tools and data collection, as explained by Hubert Deleon, the Managing Director of Eilyps. Indeed, the company offers services enabling farmers to analyse their animals’ behaviour (Cow Signal approach), measure health-related data or even develop “pharmacy pastures”.
The same approach was presented by Agnès Lejard, project manager for the French association for Livestock Consultancy FCEL), that unites all the Livestock Consultancy companies in France in charge of producing useful indicators for farmers and the farming sector through training courses and support programmes (“Cow signal” audit, “Cow healing” approach, training in alternative medicine). The Livestock Consultancy companies then help farmers comply with their sector’s specifications. The FCEL also develops nation-wide guidelines such as Res’feet (foot health observatory) or automated body status assessments. ok In addition to the tools developed within the farms, data from veterinarians also provide a great deal of information about AW, namely during physician visits. Jean-François Labbé, member of the French National Society for Veterinary Technique Groupings (SNGTV) confirmed this point during his presentation. The association - already offering training for vets and intervention tools for livestock farmers - has been homing in on the question of animal welfare. The vet’s role, in addition to healing animals, is also to observe and detect high-risk situations during discussions with farmers. Pain and slaughter management protocols are also being developed, helping to advance animal welfare practices in farms.
Making AW a standard feature
The distributors’ main concern is to meet consumer requirements, in a context where new diets (flexitarian, vegetarian, etc.) are becoming increasingly present and quality demands for consumed produce are now higher than ever. For the Carrefour group, committing to animal welfare is a must. During the AW workshop on 26 March, Séverine Fontaine, the Director of Food Quality, presented the group’s animal welfare requirements that can hopefully help change practices. Carrefour thus collaborates with local NGOs to elaborate specifications and formalise animal welfare within farming sectors.
The specifications and certification audits are then adapted to sector evolutions and customer requests, by zooming in on new challenges such as animal welfare. As explained by Alexandre Charrier, a project manager at Bureau Veritas, control bodies provide external guarantees. In-field audits offer clear and appropriate visions of the situation. New connected tools and their resulting data come as a bonus to this physical assessment - allowing for sustainable follow-up.
Applifarm: providing a solution for aggregating and securing data
According to the various speakers who took to the stand during the workshop on 26 March and to the sector’s stakeholders, a lot of different data can quantify animal welfare indicators. Applifarm, the leading livestock farming data sharing, valuation and traceability platform, has developed a new version of its platform dedicated to animal welfare.
It simplifies the implementation of projects devoted to animal welfare, digitalises in-field audits automatically sustained by data stemming from service providers or connected objects, monitors progress for in-field campaigns, manages progress plans and even steers dashboards.
A demonstration of the Applifarm platform made it possible to discover the mobile application used for self-assessment or assessment by a technician, as well as the web portal used to manage several different specifications and repositories by consolidating the results and sharing them with customers. To optimise auditing, Applifarm enriches indicators with more content, drawing it from company data sources. Connected objects such as those made by ITK Medria, that show animal behaviour, are also able to continuously measure and simplify data collection thanks to sensors already fitted in the farm.
The data is collected after consent has been provided by all parties in question and recorded in a Blockchain to ensure information reliability and transparency. Everything is then aggregated to make reading easier, and presented in a clear, customisable interface. Traceability is a case in which data sharing is used by a defined group, with specific sharing rules for each party, based on joint specifications. Applifarm provides animal farming sectors with governance management tools that improve trust between companies, and trust between companies, brands and consumers. Indeed, data sharing requires trust - which a technology such as the Blockchain can enhance. The creation of an independent Ethics Committee seemed essential to the founders, to provide feedback or be called upon if there is a risk of data being used otherwise than planned by the parties, or a risk of the sector’s image being affected. The appointment of Paul Jorion in March 2019 as Chairman of Applifarm’s Ethics Committee was announced at the end of the workshop. He will be tasked with creating and coordinating the Committee, alongside other important figures. Paul Jorion is an economist, sociologist and researcher in artificial intelligence, as well as a Professor in Ethics at the Catholic University in Lille.