Distinguished acknowledgement of the animal welfare programme WelFur
The animal welfare programme WelFur has been promoted as a so-called “Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation Initiative” by the European Commission. It is the first animal welfare-focussing programme ever to achieve the stamp of approval by the Commission.
The animal welfare protocol WelFur is a tool for objective assessment of the animal welfare on all European mink and fox farms. The animal welfare programme, for which the Department of Animal Science has been scientifically responsible as regards the mink part, has just obtained acknowledgement at the highest level, as WelFur has been accepted in the European Commission database for “Self-Regulation” and “Co-Regulation” initiatives.
A promotion in this database requires an extensive evaluation process. This means that the WelFur programme has been assessed against a range of principles, including stakeholder participation, transparency, reliability, feasibility and legal compliance. The programmes that are promoted under “Self-Regulation” and “Co-Regulation” initiatives often form the basis of binding legislation.
In the database, WelFur is also described as a “science-based, practical and reliable on-farm assessment systems as an instrument to monitor and improve welfare and demonstrate, in a transparent way, good animal welfare practices.”
The development of WelFur
The research-based system for welfare assessment of mink and fox farms “WelFur” was applied in January 2017. The researchers from the Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, have cooperated with five other countries to develop WelFur. The Department of Animal Science will manage the basic training of and three annual supplementary training days for the WelFur-Mink auditors.
“It has been an exciting challenge to be entitled to coordinate the development of the WelFur-Mink protocol, and it was even more exciting when it was decided to implement WelFur in the entire Europe. Thanks to an intensive cooperation we have succeeded in training enough independent auditors from Baltic Control in order for all European fur farmers to have three WelFur assessments before the end of December this year”, says senior researcher Steen Henrik Møller, Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University.
From and including 2017, it has become common practice that a WelFur auditor will visit all European breeders to assess the welfare in the three important production seasons. If the animal welfare is okay, and if the breeder respects the European legislation, he will receive a certification. From 2020, the world’s three auction houses Kopenhagen Fur, Saga Furs and NAFA will only sell European mink and fox furs that have been WelFur certified. Therefore, almost all European mink breeders have signed up for WelFur, and, by the end of 2018, 6300 WelFur assessments had been carried out on 2564 mink farms.
Senior researcher Steen Henrik Møller, Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University