Waitrose & Partners has commenced trialling a mobile application that will help the retailer assess the emotional wellbeing of cows in its supply chain.
The app has been introduced with the aim to manage and improve the opportunities that animals have to experience a good and enriching life, and the retailer is hopeful the app will improve animal welfare standards across the UK.
The app has been developed by animal behavioural scientists at Scotland’s Rural College, and licensed by Waitrose for trial and development over a two year period.
The app features a user-friendly interface, but is backed up by rigorous scientific research, which its creator, Professor Francoise Wemelsfelder, calls “Qualitative Behavioural Assessment”.
Wemelsfelder believes that the app can be used by animal welfare inspectors to record different expressive qualities of behaviour, such as whether an animal is relaxed, tense, playful, or anxious – behaviours that are indicative of an animal’s emotional body language and possible signs of their general well-being.
Professor Wemelsfelder said that the physical health of cows is crucial, and also believes that “factors such as enjoyment, contentment, and positive excitement play an equally vital role in ensuring that an animal has a good life."
The app is still in the early stages of use, but James Bailey, executive director at Waitrose, describes it as “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."
Bailey hopes that based on the performance of the app, advances can be made in animal welfare, as producers begin to pay more attention to this area.
The app's development is part of Waitrose's Good Life animal welfare initiative, developed by the retailer alongside its suppliers, as well as being incorporated in the group's ten-year agriculture strategy.
© 2021 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Conor Farrelly. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.