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Further study to assess interactions between economics, husbandry & welfare in large, extensively managed sheep flocks - AW1024

Objective
1. Develop indicators of sheep welfare in a representative range of extensive sheep farming systems in Great Britain from the animal’s perspective during the three year study period by:

· Consulting experts in sheep welfare and in food market stakeholder opinion using a network established from an expert workshop on sheep welfare held in year one.
· Building on a knowledge base of animal welfare established in Defra project AW1012.
· Compiling an inventory of farm system characteristics and resources on a sample of extensive sheep farms typical of the range of farming types in the different regions of Great Britain. These inventories will be related to animal welfare via the established method of assessing animal needs based on the FAWC ‘Five Freedoms’ (Defra, 2002). They will include measures related to the environment, management system and resources, animal characteristics and the quantity and quality of labour. The sample of farms will build on the focus group network established under project AW1012.
· Validating the above inventory as an objective measure of welfare from the animals’ perspective with reference to on-going research in animal behaviour and welfare. This will include a small programme of observational studies at SAC and ADAS research farms, which are focused on one or two key ‘marker’ welfare challenges for example parasitic disease and lameness.
· We have shown (Stott et al., 2005) that assessing the relative welfare of alternative extensive sheep farming systems from the sheep’s perspective can be accomplished using Adaptive Conjoint Analysis (ACA) (Green and Srinivasan, 1990) to develop welfare utility scores. We will continue to exploit this novel and highly useful technique to survey farmers/shepherds from the four focus group regions and validate this by an alternative market research technique and by cross-comparison with other welfare assessment methods. The attributes of the ACA will be based on farm system characteristics derived from the above inventory and in the light of responses to CAP reform identified in Objective 2. The use of ACA will require the respondents to express a “sheep’s eye view” of the comparative systems yet will allow comparisons of different stakeholder groups (see later).

2. Establish within three years, the main farm management strategies open to extensive sheep farmers that are likely to have impacts on animal welfare in Great Britain following CAP reform by:

· Consulting Defra, SEERAD and the National Assembly for Wales about current and future policy, mechanisms and cross compliance likely to impinge on relevant systems. Relate this to EU policy where appropriate.
· Questioning farmers in the focus group network about the options.
· Examining alternative options using computer-based farm planning models.

3. Provide, at the end of three years, a model of the relationship between the quality/availability of labour and animal welfare under extensive sheep farming systems in Great Britain by:

· Identifying the key links between animal welfare and labour input in extensive sheep farming systems, drawing on experience from project AW1012 and from objective 1 above.
· Collecting primary data from the focus group network and secondary data on labour usage and labour quality for the main extensive sheep farming systems identified in objective 2 above.
· Examining alternative attitudes towards shepherding amongst shepherds and farm decision makers in relation to both animal welfare and to likely responses to CAP reform arising from objective 2 above. A literature review will be undertaken to identify the best method for this task; specifically the application of projective techniques (McDaniel and Gates, 1995) will be investigated.
· Combining information from all the above steps to predict the main farm labour constraints on animal welfare in the alternative extensive sheep farming system scenarios associated with CAP reform.

4. Quantify within three years the relative impact of alternative farm management strategies (identified in objective 2) on farm profitability and animal welfare under the regional range of conditions in extensive sheep farming regions in Great Britain and hence explore the interactions between economics and animal welfare by:

· Establishing financial outcomes by developing and running computer-based farm planning models across scenarios using the alternative strategies across the different contexts (different national support structures within CAP, and the range of farm types and sizes etc.).
· Establishing animal welfare impacts by comparing aspects of the farm planning model solutions with the results of the ACA survey (objective 1), thereby obtaining welfare utility measures and then interrelating this with the financial outcomes.
· Verifying this with the focus group members and thus identifying further any regional variations in the way extensive sheep farming and CAP reform may interact with respect to animal welfare.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : AW1024 Final Report SID5   (667k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2006

To: 2009

Cost: £685,814
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, SAC Commercial Ltd, ADAS UK Ltd.
Keywords
Animal Welfare              
Economic Research              
Plants and Animals              
Sheep              
Fields of Study
Animal Welfare