David Fraser from Canada has asked whether “Animal Production become a profession?”. This question is of interest to many of us who have been involved in agriculture and agricultural science. David argues that measuring animal welfare in terms of an animals’ physical environment closely parallels much earlier responses to the welfare of workers in the Industrial Revolution. It also follows a broad movement of professonalisation and Continuous Professional Development within current societies. Within animal science in the UK the British Society of Animals Science has established accrediation for animal scientists and animal technicians and the English Pig Industry has established Certificates of Competence and PiPR points – the Pig industry Professional Register.
As David notes, measuring animal welfare in terms of the animals’ physical environment and time in confinement results in variable welfare outcomes. This presumably comes about because animal welfare and performance is influenced by many aspects of management such as health, nutrition and handling. All of these depend on the skills, knowledge and commitment of all animal owners and staff. Therefore valuing and fostering these qualities in people is an important way to improve animal welfare, achieve economic goals of the business, support food safety and deliver socially important goals.
The “professional” model may provide a means to achieve this. Professions typically involve three aspects: a service that people need and value, competence in a specialised area or skill and knowledge demonstrated to peers and the creation of public trust by respecting the interest and ethical expectations of society.
David Fraser recently raised these issues in an article in Livestock Science. The paper is publically available free till December 24th.
David’s paper is timely. BPEX has recently reviewed and updated the Certificates of Competence. Sam Hoste of Quantech Solutions and Neville Beynon have been involved in the re-write of the sow and gilts management aspects of these Certificates. Both of us were involved in the initial production of the training material for the Certificates of Competence and so it was rewarding to be considered to update the material. The focus was considerably smaller than the production of the original material and this enabled us to involve a number of companies in discussions of the existing material. JSR, BQP, Rattlerow, Wayland Farms and Easy were involved in early discussions: what was working well with the existing Certificates of Competence, what didn’t work so well, what other ideas did people have, and what had changed or been updated since the original material had been produced?
We both hope that the new Certificates of Competence meet the needs of the industry for now and the future and that they become more of a living document that is updated as our practice on farm evolves.
Sam Hoste has also been involved in the British Society of Animal Science’s Accreditation scheme for Animal Scientists and Animal Technicians. The flyer about the Register of Animal Scientists and Animal Technicians is available here and further details about joining are available on the BSAS website
Coincidentally Neville’s practical “Pigs – A Guide to Management” has been completely updated in a second edition and was published on the 13th October 2014. It is an accessible introduction to all aspects of pig keeping and of interest to all commercial pig farmers, small-holders, students and pet pig keepers. All aspects of pig husbandry covered and there are some 120 colour photographs.