Waitrose rolls out mobile tech to assess emotional wellbeing of farm animals
Waitrose is rolling out a new app that will help the retailer assess the emotional wellbeing of its farm animals.
Developed by animal behavioural scientists at Scotland’s Rural College and licensed by Waitrose for trial and development for two years, the app aims help field teams “better understand, recognise and record emotionally expressive behaviour that contributes to an animal’s quality of life”.
While designed to be easy to use, the app is underpinned by scientific research called Qualitative Behavioural Assessment. The method allows animal welfare inspectors to record different expressive qualities of behaviour through the app, such as being relaxed, tense, playful or anxious.
Professor Francoise Wemelsfelder, creator of the app, said: “Good physical health is vital for good welfare but there is clear consensus among the scientific animal welfare community that factors such as enjoyment, contentment and positive excitement play an equally vital role in ensuring that an animal has a good life.
“QBA not only provides a way to assess these factors, it also opens up the conversation about what positive emotional wellbeing for an animal truly looks like. Because we believe fundamentally that animals are not simply production systems to be managed. They are sentient creatures that must be cared for.”
James Bailey, executive director at Waitrose, added: “This is a huge development for the industry as it is the first time any retailer has explored welfare measures based on the concept of an animal’s freedom to express positive emotions.”
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