On Monday September 13th, Rob Stokes of Animal Welfare Approved came to Ecotone to conduct a first annual audit of our farm and facilities. And while it's not yet official, I'm very pleased to report that we did quite well. With the exception of castration - their standards require 7 days or before, and we did it around 14 days - there were no significant problems. And this, he told me, was especially impressive with our laying flocks. Most folks apparently have some work to do with their chickens before being approved, and all he advised us to do was lower a waterer a bit and not to stuff the nests too full with straw. Below is some information from their website, the link of which is above, that I edited a bit for the blog.
Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) was founded in 2006 as a market-based solution to growing consumer interest in how farm animals are raised and desire to know where their food is coming from and how it is produced. AWA grants the use of its logo to farms that are annually audited and found to comply with their rigorous animal welfare standards. Seeing the AWA seal on meat, dairy and egg products gives consumers a way to identify products originating from farming systems that take animal welfare seriously, and it gives farmers a way to show their customers how they farm. Crucially, this certification comes at no charge to farmers. Because AWA is not financially dependent on farmer fees, they are better able to remain unbiased and transparent in auditing and certification.
The AWA standards are the most rigorous and progressive animal care requirements in the nation, and the only requiring animals to be raised outdoors, on pasture or range. Continuously ranked as the “most stringent” of all third-party certifiers by the World Society for the Protection of Animals, AWA standards have been developed in collaboration with scientists, veterinarians, researchers, and farmers across the globe to maximize practicable, high-welfare farm management. AWA’s standards incorporate best practices and recent research and have been adopted only after rigorous review. The basic premise of all the standards is that animals must be able to behave naturally and be in a state of physical and psychological well-being.
To accomplish the goals of the Animal Welfare Approved program, all standards address every aspect of each species’ lifecycle needs from birth to death. Animal Welfare Approved works diligently to maintain a farm’s ability to be economically viable and the standards have been proven to be achievable by the vast majority of farm situations. Animal Welfare Approved reviews its standards annually, updating them as needed to incorporate new research and on-farm findings.