The activities in EUWelNet are organised in four dedicated Work Packages (WP):
WP1 Coordination and management
The main goal of this WP is to manage the current project in an effective and efficient way to ensure the realisation of its objectives within the prescribed constraints of time and budget. Our efforts build on the work and networks created in the ongoing Welfare Quality Network and the AWARE project. This multi-network, multi-disciplinary approach provides a particularly strong platform for all of the proposed work packages.
Not only will this (enlarged) network provide the necessary expertise and resources to efficiently address the objectives in the EUWelNet project, but it will also enable robust examination of the feasibility, sustainability and functionality of such a consortium in the context of a coordinated European animal welfare network (learning by doing).
The current consortium also allows us to determine the expectations of partners with regard to a future network and to provide a firm platform upon which it could be established. As an essential complementary component of the knowledge network we have established an Advisory Board (AB) to enable input and receive opinions from a wide range of relevant stakeholders. This Board will also serve to inform stakeholders about our progress and outputs.
Objectives of this work package include:
WP2 Identification of bottlenecks
Member States differ in how the implementation of EU welfare directives is organized and in how smoothly the implementation proceeds. Some countries have a history of early adoption and even over-implementation (i.e. highly bureaucratic/ resource intensive procedures for monitoring and facilitation) while others show uneven or under-implementation, e.g. when implementation is devolved to regional governments. In order to advise on how to facilitate implementation through knowledge transfer strategies it is important to learn more about the differences and correspondences in the process, the main bottlenecks and the measures taken to address specific ones, and how to respond to infringements and non-compliance. WP2 aims to analyse the implementation process and procedures, identify the main public and private actors and agencies involved in implementation of legislation and the level of implementation/compliance achieved. This will be done in eight member states (RO, I, S, SK, UK, NL, PL, ES, F, DE) using existing information. The next step involves more in depth study of the major bottlenecks that hinder smooth implementation in six countries (RO, I, UK, NL, PL, ES) and making inventories of the various procedures used to facilitating implementation as well as of ideas for new and more effective implementation strategies. All interviews will pay specific attention to knowledge gaps and the relevance of knowledge transfer for supporting implementation.
WP 2 fulfils objective 2 of the call: the collection and analysis of existing data to establish bottlenecks/difficulties in implementing the EU legislation related to insufficient knowledge in different parts of the EU based on a few specific examples of the EU legislation and according to a scientifically established methodology.
The results of WP2 will also contribute to the effort in WP3 to design specific knowledge strategies to overcome particular bottlenecks (fulfilling objective 3 of the call). WP 2 also provides important data for WP4 through the identification of the main actors in the implementation process and potential partners in a future EU network for animal welfare (fulfilling objective 4).
WP3 Knowledge strategies
WP 3 is the largest one and aims to develop and evaluate knowledge strategies to overcome difficulties in implementing specific examples of EU legislation on animal welfare, namely the “pig directive”, the “broiler directive” and the “killing regulation”. These examples were chosen mainly, because they will allow us to develop and evaluate four different types of knowledge strategies to tackle known difficulties and that might be used as models for further developments (see Tasks 3.1 to 3.4 below).
Difficulties and strategies:
a) The broiler directive uses a combination of inputs and outputs to guide decisions on stocking density via monitoring of individual farm performance. In line with the requirements of the directive, a number of animal based outcome parameters were proposed by a working group and the EU initiated moves towards a data collection exercise in which ten welfare indicators will be measured. One difficulty in implementing the broiler directive is that there is great variability across Member States in the sort of data that is currently collected, how it is collected, what use is made of the information and how enforcement and stocking rate decisions are made.
In Task 3.1, a curriculum for an EU wide training package in implementing the broiler directive will be proposed and a workshop with Member States will be held.
b) The pig directive requires that pigs must have permanent access to a sufficient quantity of material to enable proper investigation and manipulation activities. Further, tail docking can only be carried out where there is evidence of injuries to tails and other measures to prevent tail-biting have been attempted. Here, an important difficulty is that the enrichment and tail docking requirements have been inconsistently implemented in many Member States partly because the assessment of compliance requires considerable knowledge and understanding of the relevant scientific literature and practical application.
Task 3.2 will develop and test an e-learning tool with the following specific learning objectives: to understand the motivation for exploratory behaviour and tail biting, to be aware of the potential consequences of tail biting, and to be able to assess the suitability of available enrichment material, among others.
c) Another requirement of the pig directive is that sows and gilts are kept in groups during a period starting from four weeks after service to one week before the expected time of farrowing. One difficulty underlying the delayed transition and non-compliance with this requirement is lack of knowledge which may reflect difficulties in interpretation of the regulation, lack of familiarity with the options available for housing pregnant sows in groups and, even more importantly, lack of expertise in managing group-housed pregnant sows effectively.
In Task 3.3, two fact sheets and further digital material will be produced. One fact sheets, for example, will be aimed at farmers and will focus on successful management of group-housed pregnant sows.
d) The killing regulation requires a qualified Animal Welfare Officer (AWO) in each slaughterhouse to ensure compliance with the Regulation and to develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) for effective stunning and its assessment, and to keep a record of remedial actions. Also, the regulation refers to the need for each Member State to develop a mechanism for scientific support. However, given the limited number of scientists with the required knowledge it might be very difficult to identify experts on animal welfare at slaughter in every country and this may contribute to non-compliance. In particular, two likely bottlenecks relate to the required electrical parameters for waterbath stunning in poultry and the assessment of effective unconsciousness following stunning.
Task 3.4 will establish a technical network composed of groups and/or individuals with expertise in animal welfare at slaughter, and develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) to overcome the difficulties in implementing the regulation.
WP4 - Overarching analysis and recommendations on feasibility and conditions
The ultimate goals of EUWelNet are to assess the feasibility and usefulness of a coordinated European animal welfare network and to identify ways in which such a network could be established. Work in WP2 and WP3 respectively will identify difficulties and bottlenecks that hamper compliance with EU legislation on farm animal welfare, and develop and evaluate knowledge strategies designed to overcome selected bottlenecks. WP4 will conduct an overarching analysis of the results from WPs 2 and 3 and will make more generalised extrapolations from the outcomes. WP4 will also identify crucial animal welfare players for a coordinated European animal welfare approach. It will build a number of different scenarios for the establishment of a sustainable coordinated European network and will run cost/benefit analyses for each of these scenarios. Recommendations for the development of a coordinated European animal welfare network will then be formulated.