In the past 30 years, the pork industry has made great progress through the implementation of animal welfare programs, audits and assessments. These tools have helped pork producers demonstrate the many ways that they are listening to consumers and their expectations.
These programs often include animal-based measures or outcomes, documentation and facility assessments.
Because of this, it can be easy to view animal care audits as a one-and-done event, says Paul Ayers, animal care manager for The Maschhoffs. That’s why he is focused on avoiding the audit mentality and instead, creating a culture of animal care into the work their employees do each and every day.
“Animal care and production performance and production goals for your farm should not be mutually exclusive,” Ayers says. “I’m a firm believer if you’re doing well with animal care and preparing for audits, you are also going to be doing the things that will position the farm for success for production performance.”
One of the ways he tries to help employees avoid “audit fear” is to get their animal care teams in the barns on a routine basis to help support training and help with follow-up actions on the back end of audits.
“We try to position our animal care team to be more involved in training, follow-up actions, getting out on the farm on an informal basis, not just in the audits. Just being on the farm and actually getting in the pens and helping load out pigs, vaccinating pigs, etc. You can probably learn more from doing that than doing an audit and by learning that, you can help implement strategies to drive improvement.”
Ayers adds that audits are a snapshot in time – just one component of the continual improvement process.
“The more support you can provide after the audit is just as, if not more important, than the audit itself,” he says.