Assessing Goat Welfare Made Easy

As an Ontario goat producer, you are constantly striving to improve animal welfare on farm by adjusting management based on current research and meeting or exceeding industry standards for the care of goats.

While most farms are already following the best practices outlined in Ontario Goat’s “Best Management Practices for Commercial Goat Production” and the “Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Goats,” a welfare assessment can help you benchmark the level of welfare on your farm and identify your farm’s strengths as well as some areas to improve in order to provide the best welfare for your herd.

The welfare assessment is simple to complete. You can do it yourself, or ask an advisor such as your herd veterinarian to complete it with you. Included in the assessment booklet are all the standards and information needed to conduct the assessment – no need to look anything up. This booklet is another example of the important producer resources developed by Ontario Goat.

Members of Ontario Goat will be provided a link to access the recently completed “Goat Welfare Assessment” booklet online and receive a printed copy of the welfare assessment booklet. The booklet covers topics such as housing, health, animal indicators, nutrition, handling, transport, and documentation. The booklet also has a section specific to dairy producers.

Assessing welfare can pay off, literally. Growing Forward 2 (GF2) is a federal-provincial initiative that encourages innovation, competitiveness and market development in Canada’s agri-food and agri products sector, and is schedule to wrap up in March of 2018. Through this program, producers applied to have up to half the costs associated with on-farm projects that improve welfare covered by the program. In order for producers to access funding to improve animal welfare on farm, GF2 requires an animal welfare assessment to be completed by a veterinarian or professional assessor. Although the GF2 funding program applications have  wrapped up, the welfare assessment developed by Ontario Goat (OG) may help producers access funding to improve animal welfare on their farms under future funding initiatives. OG will share information on these initiatives as they become available.

Assessing the level of welfare on your farm on a regular basis will help you evaluate the effectiveness of management changes and ensure your farm continues to improve animal care. Assessing welfare is something you subconsciously do every time you go to the barn. Following a more focused assessment can help you get a more complete picture of the welfare of your herd, identify areas of improvement, track progress, and keep staff (and yourself) accountable.