Our cookies

We use cookies, which are small text files, to improve your experience on our website.
You can allow or reject non essential cookies or manage them individually.

Reject allAllow all

More options  •  Cookie policy

Our cookies

Allow all

We use cookies, which are small text files, to improve your experience on our website. You can allow all or manage them individually.

You can find out more on our cookie page at any time.

EssentialThese cookies are needed for essential functions such as logging in and making payments. Standard cookies can’t be switched off and they don’t store any of your information.
AnalyticsThese cookies help us collect information such as how many people are using our site or which pages are popular to help us improve customer experience. Switching off these cookies will reduce our ability to gather information to improve the experience.
FunctionalThese cookies are related to features that make your experience better. They enable basic functions such as social media sharing. Switching off these cookies will mean that areas of our website can’t work properly.

Save preferences

Animal Welfare - Recent Reports and Comments

Animal Welfare vol 23 issue 3 Volume 23
Issue 3
August 2014

The welfare of farmed fish at the time of killing

In June 2014 the Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC), an expert committee of Defra in England and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales, published its Opinion on the Welfare of Farmed Fish at the Time of Killing. The Opinion covers the welfare of various species of fish, of which 100 million individuals are estimated to be growing on UK farms at any given time, for human consumption. The Opinion focuses on Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout, whose industries are becoming more centralised, with fewer companies increasing production, according to FAWC. Indeed, FAWC points out that Defra, the Scottish and Welsh Governments have all pledged to support their aquaculture industries in sustainable increases in production. In terms of tonnage, salmon and trout production by far exceeds that of other UK aquaculture finfish species, which are typically farmed through small-scale agricultural diversification. Some of those other species (halibut and tilapia) are specifically referred to in the FAWC Opinion, including in the tables of parameters for stunning. FAWC also make reference to ‘cleaner-fish’ (eg species of wrasse) which may be kept in marine pens, alongside the farmed fish species that are intended for human consumption, to reduce the populations of parasitic sea lice. It is predicted that, by 2017, more than 2 million cleaner-fish might be used per year. The Opinion considers the welfare of fish that are routinely slaughtered for human consumption, killed in emergencies following detection of an untreatable or notifiable disease or the irreparable failure of life-supporting equipment, and those individuals that are culled for invasive health sampling or because they are deemed unlikely to thrive (whether slow-growing or moribund) or surplus to production requirements.

FAWC state that if slaughter or killing of farmed fish is to be humane, with minimal pain, distress and suffering, then certain principles should be observed, including that: personnel involved with killing must have a duty of care, be trained and be competent; only fit and healthy fish should undergo the complete routine harvesting/slaughter procedure; handling must be performed with consideration for fish welfare and only equipment that is fit-for-purpose should be used; fish must be rendered unconscious instantaneously or unconsciousness must be induced without pain or distress; and fish must not recover consciousness before death ensues. Even if it is not possible or practicable to handle certain fish individually, FAWC states that those persons involved in harvesting/killing farmed fish should regard fish as individuals and take responsibility for ending each fish’s life. FAWC commend those operations that already use high standards of killing technology and practices for farmed fish.

Feed withdrawal, crowding, handling, manipulation and transport are discussed with respect to pre-slaughter management processes. FAWC recommend that research should aim to determine humane feed withdrawal limits. FAWC also recommend that cleaner-fish should be separated from the farmed species, when any food withdrawal period commences, to prevent the cleaner-fish from being predated by the farmed species. FAWC point out that crowding and removal from water are two management operations that are often performed and invoke the maximal stress response in fish; “…some degree of stress is unavoidable although it should be minimised through husbandry practice and operating system design… it should be questioned in designing systems and practices whether removal of fish from water is necessary at all”. 

FAWC believe that all farmed fish should be stunned before killing. However, the Committee notes that there is anecdotal evidence that farmed fish in the EU and beyond are killed without prior stunning, using asphyxiation in air or ice, rapid chilling, water saturated with carbon dioxide, or by cutting their blood vessels. These methods, however, are considered to cause unacceptable levels of pain and suffering and FAWC argues that such methods should not be used under any circumstances because European Council Regulation 1099/2009 on the Protection of Animals at the Time of Killing requires that “[fish] shall be spared any avoidable pain, distress or suffering during their killing…”. FAWC also state that “emergency killing, including where automated stunning or other methods fail, should not be by methods considered inhumane at other times… and that automated killing facilities must have available in the killing area, a method of manual percussion…”. Another recommendation is that research should be carried out into the detection, retrieval from stocked pens and killing of sick and moribund fish.

The Opinion provides tables of stunning methods and parameters (in the format of Annex I of EC Regulation 1099/2009) and advises that the EU Commission should consider inclusion in EU law, of such requirements for the welfare of farmed fish at the time of killing. The tables list the method (percussive stunning, electrical stunning) and its characteristics, conditions for use, key parameters and specific requirements. FAWC states that the parameters should be considered as a guide rather than minimum values for stunning and recommends that “operators… should… demonstrate that the key parameters in the [FAWC] Opinion… are properly taken into account”. In some cases it may be possible to re-use healthy cleaner-fish in the same geographical area (rather than killing them after only one use), but when the time does come to kill the cleaner-fish, FAWC believes they can be killed by anaesthetic or percussive equipment.

FAWC advise that there may be requirements, under EC Regulation 1099/2009, that are suitable for adoption by fish killing establishments, eg Standard Operating Procedures, training and Certificates of Competence to kill animals, maintenance of equipment related to handling and slaughter, monitoring and recording of electrical stunning equipment, animal welfare monitoring processes and Animal Welfare Officers.

Whether the European Parliament and Council will provide legislative proposals for more specific requirements for fish at the time of killing should become evident after December 2014. However, FAWC also mention that “greater public understanding of [fish] welfare issues… informed by scientific evidence… is needed… to motivate ethical consumer choice”.

J Spence

Opinion on the Welfare of Farmed Fish at the Time of Killing 2014. A4, 36 pages. Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC). Available at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/fawc/.

Animal welfare monitoring procedures at slaughterhouses

According to European Council Regulation 1099/2009 on the Protection of Animals at the Time of Killing, which has applied across Europe since 1 January 2013, “[animal welfare] monitoring through indicators… should be carried out to evaluate the efficiency of the [slaughter] procedure under practical conditions” and reliable results on the status of animal welfare at the time of killing can only be obtained if business operators develop monitoring tools to evaluate the effects of the management of daily procedures. Article 5 states: “…checks shall be carried out on a sufficiently representative sample of animals and their frequency shall be established taking into account the outcome of previous checks and any factors which may affect the efficiency of the stunning process”. A range of requirements are listed under Article 16, including that the indicators of consciousness, unconsciousness and death must have criteria for determining whether the results shown by the indicators are satisfactory and if the results are not satisfactory, then the cause must be identified and the necessary changes made to the operation procedure.

To assist with these aims, in December 2013 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a series of scientific Opinions on slaughterhouse monitoring procedures for bovines — slaughter with prior stunning (penetrative captive-bolt) and slaughter without stunning; pigs — slaughter with prior stunning (head-only electrical or gas); poultry (chickens and turkeys only) — slaughter with prior stunning (electrical water-bath or gas) and slaughter without stunning; and sheep and goats — slaughter with prior stunning (head-only electrical) and slaughter without stunning.

The EFSA’s aim is to suggest procedures that Food Business Operators (FBOs) can use to help prevent negative welfare outcomes for animals at slaughter. The procedures use ‘toolboxes’ of animal-based welfare indicators, selected by EFSA on the basis of their sensitivity, specificity and feasibility, to assess signs of consciousness in animals stunned during slaughter, and signs of unconsciousness and death in animals slaughtered without stunning. EFSA has also identified common risk factors for the slaughter scenarios and types of stunners and their welfare consequences and provided examples of sampling protocols based on those risks.

When animals are stunned during the slaughter process, EFSA recommend that the risk of poor welfare can be better detected if animal welfare monitoring is focused on detecting indicators of ineffective stunning ie, failure to lose consciousness or recovery of consciousness after stunning. An indicator is considered to be 100% sensitive if it detects all conscious animals as conscious and 100% specific if it detects all unconscious animals as unconscious. It must also be feasible, which depends on the slaughterhouse layout.

EFSA recommend that operators choose at least two ‘recommended’ indicators and thereafter may choose ‘additional’ indicators according to the individual’s expertise and the infrastructure of the slaughterhouse. The ‘additional’ indicators are relatively low in sensitivity or feasibility and are insufficient for use on their own, without ‘recommended’ indicators. The indicators are phrased neutrally (eg ‘breathing’) in the toolboxes but depending on whether the indicator is present or absent, the outcome may be a conscious or unconscious, or live or dead, animal. Each animal must be repeatedly assessed for consciousness, or life, during a number of key stages of monitoring, which vary depending on the slaughter scenario and the stunning equipment used. For example, for poultry stunned using an electrical water-bath, the two key stages are: (i) between the exit from the water-bath stunner and neck cutting; and (ii) during bleeding. Flow charts of the toolboxes at all key stages, the outcomes for consciousness, unconsciousness and death and any necessary interventions (eg back-up stunning) are displayed in the scientific Opinions for all species and slaughter and stunning scenarios.

In the case of animals slaughtered without stunning, every animal must be monitored (EC Regulation 1099/2009). Where animals are stunned, EFSA recommend that slaughterhouse personnel should check all animals immediately after stunning, during neck cutting or sticking and during bleeding and that operators should confirm each animal is not conscious, and/or not alive, before further processing takes place. In addition, the Animal Welfare Officer (AWO) should periodically assess a sample of the slaughter population using the EFSA sample size calculation tool (EFSA Stun Model software) to estimate: i) sample size needed to achieve the desired accuracy at a specific failure rate threshold); and ii) expected failure rate (ie a tolerance level for the highest, acceptable proportion of potential failed/ineffective stuns), given the sample size. Based on EFSA’s definition of a slaughter population, slaughterhouses killing multiple species of mammals or multiple species of poultry may need a separate protocol for each mammal, or bird, type. The tool is intended to act as a ‘standard’ sampling protocol but EFSA states that it was established for information and consultation purposes only and… it has not been adopted or in any way approved by the European Commission”.

In the scientific Opinions, EFSA suggest different risk factors and scenarios which can define the level of the monitoring protocol required by each slaughterhouse when stunning, eg whether it should be a ‘normal’/standard protocol (eg using the EFSA sample size calculation tool) or, if necessary, a ‘reinforced’/tightened protocol. If risk factors affect the quality of the stun, EFSA state it will not be necessary to increase the sampling frequency. However, when a conscious animal is detected or when a risk factor (eg employment of new personnel) reduces the sensitivity of an indicator the sampling frequency will need to be increased, and a reinforced protocol adopted. The increase in the sampling frequency is relative to the reduction in sensitivity of monitoring but EFSA report that this value may be unknown and so, testing one-tenth of the slaughter population, in one sampling period may be necessary. Risk factors might include: the outcome of previous checks (particularly if they indicated risks to animal welfare); changes in the type or size of animal slaughtered; personnel working patterns; and the level of competence, experience and/or fatigue of an individual operator, which EFSA suggests can affect the quality of stunning and the quality of monitoring of the effectiveness of stunning.

EFSA note that as a result of the “…scarcity of scientific publications reporting correlation between unconsciousness or death ascertained by EEG and the behavioural and physiological indicators to detect unconsciousness and death that could be used in slaughterhouse conditions… Further scientific studies should be carried out to collect valid information on indicator sensitivity and specificity”. In December 2013 EFSA published a scientific Opinion on guidance for researchers on the EFSA assessment criteria for studies evaluating the effectiveness of stunning interventions used at slaughter.

EFSA also suggest that the sensitivity, specificity and feasibility of welfare indicators will improve as personnel acquire competence (through relevant knowledge, skill and experience) in monitoring indicators, via education, training and assessment. Hence, EFSA suggests that harmonised training programmes for personnel with responsibility for monitoring and ensuring animal welfare at slaughter, are required throughout the EU, and recommend that: “until such time as any improvement in sensitivity or specificity resulting from personnel training is objectively demonstrated, the values given in [the scientific] opinion for calculating the sample size should be considered as a minimum requirement” for animals stunned during slaughter.

Sample Size Calculation Tool for Monitoring Stunning at Slaughter 2013. A4, 18 pages. Technical Report, EFSA supporting publication 2013: EN-541. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy. Available at: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/.

Scientific Opinion on Guidance on the Assessment Criteria for Studies Evaluating the Effectiveness of Stunning Interventions Regarding Animal Protection at the Time of Killing 2013. A4, 41 pages. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW), Parma, Italy. Available at: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/.

Scientific Opinion on Monitoring Procedures at Slaughterhouses for Bovines 2013. A4, 65 pages. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW), Parma, Italy. Available at: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/.

Scientific Opinion on Monitoring Procedures at Slaughterhouses for Pigs 2013. A4, 62 pages. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW), Parma, Italy. Available at: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/.

Scientific Opinion on Monitoring Procedures at Slaughterhouses for Poultry 2013. A4, 65 pages. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW), Parma, Italy. Available at: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/.

Scientific Opinion on Monitoring Procedures at Slaughterhouses for Sheep and Goats. 2013. A4, 65 pages. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW), Parma, Italy. Available at: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/.

J Spence
Humane Slaughter Association

Cattle, badgers, and achieving bovine TB free status for England

England’s cattle have the highest level of bovine tuberculosis in Europe. In the recently updated Strategy for achieving Officially Bovine Tuberculosis Free status for England, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson, states that: “Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is the most pressing animal health problem in the UK. The crisis facing our cattle farmers, their families and their communities cannot be overstated. It is a devastating zoonosis that threatens our cattle industry and presents risks to other livestock, wildlife species such as badgers, domestic pets and humans”.

Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is a chronic respiratory disease that the farming industry has been battling for decades. Caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), cattle are the main host of the infection, but other mammals are also susceptible. Transmission between hosts is usually through breathing in the bacilli aerially, although infection may also occur through ingestion of contaminated feed or water.

Efforts to control bTB include an ongoing countrywide strategy of cattle testing, removal and slaughter of infected animals, movement restrictions of infected herds, and post mortem surveillance of animals at slaughter for bTB lesions. Across Europe, these control and surveillance methods are used and the European Commission has allocated a large amount of money to co-fund bTB control and eradication programmes to assist countries in becoming Officially TB Free (OTF). A number of countries have been successful in achieving OTF status but, so far, the level of bTB in England continues to rise.

It is not clear why bTB is steadily increasing in England, but one theory is that badgers are acting as a reservoir of infection. Over the past few decades numerous reports have been written (eg Zuckerman review, Dunnet review, Krebs report, The Randomised Badger Culling Trial, Independent Scientific Group report), examining the role of badgers in bTB infection of cattle and experimental culls have been carried out to assess whether reducing the badger population will assist with reducing the overall number of infected cattle. Opinion varies, both within and between, the farming community, veterinarians, government, scientists and the general public.

In 2012, following a period of consultation, Defra announced that culling badgers would, once again, form part of England’s bTB control strategy and west Gloucester and west Somerset were to act as pilot areas to test the effectiveness of this policy on reducing overall levels of bTB. Badgers are a protected species (under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992) and a number of conditions needed to be met before a licence, issued by Natural England, could be granted to proceed with the cull.

The culls commenced summer 2013 closely monitored by an Independent Expert Panel (IEP) (appointed by Defra for their expertise in animal welfare, veterinary pathology, badger behaviour and ecology, wildlife population biology, statistics, marksmanship and management of wild animal populations). The IEP’s terms of reference were to assess whether the culls could be carried out in an effective, humane and safe way when using controlled shooting as a culling method (although in the field controlled shooting was actually used alongside cage trapping and shooting during the pilots).

The IEP published their findings in March 2014. With regards to the safety aspect of badger culling, the IEP concluded that there was no risk to public safety, even in the presence of local protest. However, a number of concerns were raised over both the effectiveness and humaneness of culling using controlled shooting and the IEP state that “If culling is continued in the pilot areas, or in the event of roll-out to additional areas, standards of effectiveness and humaneness must be improved”.

Concerns over the effectiveness of the cull stem from the low number of badgers killed. A previous study found that for a cull to be effective at least 70% of the starting population of badgers must be removed; otherwise the level of bTB may actually rise in animals in surrounding areas due to perturbation. The IEP found that this level of removal was not achieved and estimate (within a 95% confidence interval [CI]) that a combination of both controlled shooting, and cage trapping and shooting, only removed between 34.5 and 48.1% of badgers in Somerset, and 27.5 to 39.1% of badgers in Gloucestershire.

The humaneness of the cull was also questioned. The IEP assumed that “the onset of firearms injury pain in badgers mimics that of people” and “that suffering from marked pain is very likely in badgers that survive more than 5 min after being shot”. The number of badgers that took longer than 5 minutes to die was therefore recorded, as were the number of situations in which a badger was believed to have been shot but a body was not recovered (eg due to the contractor being unable to find the badger, or because the badger had entered a sett). Additionally, the IEP suggest that “a threshold of concern for humaneness should be set at 5%, ie it is reasonable to expect that 95% of shot badgers should be dead within 5 min”. Contractors were not successful in meeting this target and the IEP concluded that it was extremely likely (95% CI) that: “between 7.4% and 22.8% of badgers that were shot at were still alive after 5 min, and therefore at risk of experiencing marked pain”.

Other key issues raised by the IEP include: problems in identifying the size of the badger population; misidentification of badger sets (1 in 4 badger sets were misidentified in Somerset, and 1 in 10 in Gloucestershire); drop out of contractors; poor knowledge of marksman on field craft, including badger behaviour, sett assessment, pre-baiting and baiting; insufficient use of thermal imaging equipment; and inadequate skill of some marksmen when shooting at night.

The IEP made a number of recommendations to government within their report and Defra were quick to reply, publishing a response in April 2014. For the most part, Defra accepts the recommendations put forward by the IEP and a brief description is given on how government plans to act on each one. Areas where government is in agreement with the IEP include: the need for improved assessment, monitoring and training of contractors; amendment of the Best Practice Guidance with regard to target area and clarification of shooting distance; the necessity for ensuring that at least 70% of the land included in a cull area may be accessed and that contractors are deployed more uniformly across the land; and the need to improve standards of effectiveness and humaneness. Defra note that “the Panel’s report offers useful insights to be taken into account in planning for this year’s culls”.

Defra does not fully agree with the IEP with regards to how badger population levels may be reliably assessed in cull areas. Assessing the starting population of badgers is important both for the success of any cull (the starting population should be reduced by 70%), and also to ensure that the number of badgers killed does not put the local badger population at risk of extinction (which would contravene the Bern Convention). The IEP advise that a cull-sample-matching approach is used in any future culling operations but Defra proposes instead that they work with Natural England and AHVLA “to adopt more cost-effective methodologies to assess effectiveness of culling, that do not rely solely on measurement of population numbers”.

Conclusions of Defra include: “We recognise that even with a combination of cage trapping and controlled shooting, the desired 70% level of control was not achieved in the first year. However, this is only the start of a 4-year culling programme” and “we need to focus on the longer term outcome”. Additionally, Defra state that: “We have to recognise that shooting under the circumstances experienced in the field cannot be expected to deliver the same level of precision as that achieved in more controlled environments” and that “We also need to place shooting of badgers in context with the shooting of other wildlife species that is considered normal practice and is not subject to the same level of scrutiny”.

As well as responding to the IEP Report in April, Defra also published an updated strategy for tackling bTB entitled: ‘The Strategy for achieving Officially Bovine Tuberculosis Free status for England’. The Strategy’s objective is for the whole of England to become officially bTB free (OTF) by 2038, and for large parts of the north and east of England to achieve OTF status by 2025, or sooner (for a member state to be considered officially bTB free, the annual incidence of herds with confirmed M. bovis infection must not have exceeded 0.1% and at least 99.9% of the herds within it must have been free from bTB at the end of the year for at least six consecutive years).

Government proposes three key actions for achieving OTF status:

  • establishing three bovine tuberculosis (bTB) management regions or zones (a High Risk Area, a Low Risk Area and a buffer zone (Edge Area) in between);
  • applying a range of measures to control the disease within these zones that is practical and proportionate to the disease risk while maintaining an economically sustainable livestock industry;
  • ensuring that there is shared governance of the delivery process between the main beneficiaries including the food and farming industry and the taxpayer.”

The Report gives a background of bTB, discusses the rationale for intervention and explains the risk-based approach which is to be utilised for dealing with the disease. Existing measures already in use against bTB within the three management regions are outlined under four main headings: surveillance (find infection early); breakdown management (reduce risk of spread of infection — eliminate infection quickly); dealing with risk of TB from badgers (reduce risk of badger-to-cattle and cattle-to-badger infection); and other disease prevention (reduce risk of infection spread).

Other control methods which may be more widely applied are also expanded upon, including: i) Biosecurity (risk-based trading, on-farm and off-farm biosecurity and using compensation to encourage risk-reduction); ii) improving advice and guidance to farmers; iii) improving compliance and enforcement; and iv) tackling TB in non-bovine species.

Significant funds (approximately £155 million since 1991/92) have been invested into a bTB research programme to further understand the disease and to develop new tools to tackle bTB. In the Strategy, emphasis is placed on current research into developing new diagnostic tests for surveillance (to detect bTB in both cattle and badgers) and also on developing a deployable bTB vaccine (for cattle and badgers). Other areas of future research include investigating alternative strategies for dealing with the risk of TB from badgers and research into genetic resistance of cattle to bTB.

The new Strategy stresses the importance of flexibility when dealing with bTB and that controlling bTB “will require us to apply different sets of interventions according to circumstance because the problem is different in different parts of the country”. It is intended that the Strategy will be “regularly reviewed and refreshed” taking into account field experience and advances in approaches to tackle bTB.

Pilot Badger Culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire (March 2014). A4, 58 pages. Report by the Independent Expert Panel. Available for download from the GOV.UK website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pilot-badger-culls-in-somerset-and-gloucestershire-report-by-the-independent-expert-panel.

Pilot Badger Culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire: Report by the Independent Expert Panel: Defra response (April 2014). A4, 12 pages. Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs. Available for download from the GOV.UK website: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/300424/pb14158-defra-response-independent-expert-panel.pdf. Any enquiries regarding the publication should be sent to: defra.helpline@defra.gsi.gove.uk.

The Strategy for Achieving Officially Bovine Tuberculosis Free status for England (April 2014). A4, 85 pages. Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs. Available for download from the GOV.UK website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-strategy-for-achieving-officially-bovine-tuberculosis-free-status-for-england.

E Carter

Updated operational guidelines published in the UK covering the use of animals in research

To harmonise, strengthen and fully implement the 3Rs principles (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement), legislation covering the use of animals in research throughout the European Union (EU) was updated in 2010. Directive 2010/63/EU replaced Directive 86/609/EEC and took full effect in January 2013. All countries within the EU were required to have translated this Directive into national legislation by this time.

In the UK, The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 Amendment Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/3039) transpose EU Directive 2010/63/EU and amend the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA). Section 21 of ASPA requires the Secretary of State to publish information on the conditions of licences and certificates issued under the Act, and how such licences and certificates may be granted. To comply with this requirement, ‘Guidance on the Operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986’ was published in March 2014. The Guidance applies to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Guidance was developed following a period of consultation with key stakeholders and the Animals in Science Committee and replaces the previous Guidance, published in 2000. Arranged in 14 Sections, and including lengthy appendices (A to I), it is intended that the Guidance acts as a reference document and covers:

  • “The scope and main provisions of the amended Act;
  • The responsibilities of those with roles under the Act;
  • Licences granted under the Act, including the terms and conditions of their issue; and
  • Severity classification, humane killing and the accommodation and care of animals, including the status of Annex 3 to the Directive and current UK Codes of Practice.”

Much of the new Directive was already covered by ASPA, however there are some key differences, and the Guidance will be helpful to those working under ASPA by giving information on new requirements. One area of change involves the retrospective assessment of projects that utilise cats, dogs, equidae or non-human primates, and of projects involving procedures classified as ‘severe’. This has previously not been required in the UK and Section 5.17 of the Guidance provides some information on what is expected. Retrospective assessment has been put in place to assist with determining: whether the programme of work has been carried out; whether the objectives have been achieved; the amount of harm caused to the animals involved; and whether any lessons may be learnt and so facilitate further application of the 3Rs. Other useful additions to the Guidance include flow diagrams to aid in decision making, eg when considering whether to re-use animals (Section 5.19) and when considering the fate of animals at the end of a series of regulated procedures.

It is expected that the Guidance will be reviewed in approximately two years’ time. Before this date, the Secretary of State may also publish further, more detailed, advice on some topics, such as guidance on the use of Animals Containing Human Material (anticipated publication date late 2014).

Guidance on the Operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (March 2014). A4, 148 pages. Home Office. Presented to Parliament pursuant to Section 21 (5) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. Print ISBN 9781474100281 Web ISBN 9781474100298. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/291350/Guidance_on_the_Operation_of_ASPA.pdf.

E Carter

Online, interactive training aid for farriers and equine veterinarians

E-Hoof is an interactive, web-based resource developed by the University of Zurich, the Swiss Metal Union, and the European Federation of Farriers Associations, with support from the EU Leonardo da Vinci transfer of innovation programme for life-long learning. A number of other stakeholders are also involved as either strategic or educational partners.

The aim of e-Hoof is “to promote a high standard of knowledge, care and workmanship within the equine industry” because “sound knowledge forms the basis of good equine welfare practice”. E-Hoof hopes to establish “a standard for farriery training across Europe” and also “to cultivate an exchange of expertise between two equine professionals, farriers and veterinarians”.

Navigation of the website is achieved through clicking on one of the menu headings on the homepage: Topic, Anatomy, Glossary, Scripts, References, Workbook, Videos, Help and Information, and my e-Hoof. Alternatively, icons positioned at the top of the screen may be used, which are present at all times and allow you to navigate back and forth between different areas without having to return to the homepage. Either English or German may be selected as the preferred language.

Within the Topic section, there are 21 themes listed which range from general areas (such as Evolution and History, or Husbandry and Management), through to more technical subjects (such as Forging Specialised Shoes, Diagnostic Imaging, and Distorted Hooves). Each Topic is arranged in chapters, and each chapter is divided into subsections. Photos, diagrams, interactive figures and video clips are used to illustrate the information presented. The ‘Scripts’ section of the website allows you to view and print out a manuscript on your chosen chapter (minus any illustrations).

It is clear that E-hoof is a work in progress and some features are not yet available, such as the proposed feature for ‘Questions’ which will allow users to test their knowledge of the website content through self-assessment and ‘Cases’ which will allow users to view a selection of case studies of hoof disorders. Other features are partially available (eg most, but not all manuscripts in the ‘Scripts’ section are available to print). Additionally, some Topics are listed as ‘coming soon’ (eg History of farriery, Alternative hoof protection). However, there is still a vast amount of comprehensive material already on the website and it is intended that the E-hoof platform will continue to be updated and expanded as further information and features become available.

E-Hoof is aimed predominantly at veterinarians and farriers, but others interested in horse care may also find the website useful. Access to E-hoof is partial for guest users and limited to topics on Behaviour and Handling, Anatomy and Physiology of Organ Systems, Normal Shoeing, and Disorders of the Hoof, as well as the Glossary of terms. Users wishing to gain full access to the E-hoof platform may register for a free ten-day trial. Interested parties may then continue accessing the full website once their free trial period has elapsed by purchasing a licence, of which a number of different packages are offered.

E-Hoof (March 2014). E-hoof is a web-based resource developed by the University of Zurich, the Swiss Metal Union and the European Federation of Farriers Associations. It is available online at: www.e-hoof.com.

E Carter

Return to Reports and Comments index