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18/10/21 – Sustainability / Agriculture / Farming / Compassion

COMPASSION-INSPIRED INNOVATION: Compassion in World Farming’s ‘Best Innovation Award’

Compassion in World Farming recently hosted its virtual Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards, celebrating numerous company achievements, including not one but two winners in the ‘Best Innovation Award’ category.

Streamlined to allow businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic to progress towards delivery of their existing animal welfare commitments, the ceremony this year encompassed just 10 awards, in addition to three species-specific awards – all celebrating market-leading food businesses for their inspiring and often innovative work in the field of farm animal welfare and sustainable food production.

Of the entries for the Best Innovation Award, not one but two applications stood out – both of which were awarded Special Recognition Awards.

Hilton Seafood UK’s electric stunner

Hilton Seafood UK received recognition for being the first to commercially trial and adopt an electric stunner for warm-water white-leg shrimp (or King Prawns). The electric stunner delivers a more humane method of slaughter than the usual thermal stunning by immersion in ice slurry. In addition to the welfare benefits it offers (including less handling and crowding of the prawns), the innovation provides a more effective and consistent stun, which reduces labour during harvest, while not being detrimental to product quality.


The system, which has been approved and rolled out across the Hilton/Tesco supply chain, will benefit more than 100 million animals in its first year of implementation.  

“Hilton Seafoods UK takes fish and crustacean welfare extremely seriously, and actively seeks out improved welfare methods and the latest research on welfare and animal handling,” said the company’s Fisheries, Aquaculture & Supply Chain Manager, William Davies. “Working with our supplier partners, we are very happy with the performance of the shrimp stunner, enabling both improved welfare at harvest, and a harvest efficiency benefit for the farmer. Awareness of crustacean sentience is growing, and the implementation of the farmed shrimp stunner adds to the existing electrical stunning we have in all the wild caught crab and lobster we purchase.”

Dr Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business at Compassion, said: “The sentience of crustaceans is often overlooked – and in the absence of any legislation or standards, this electric stunner for shrimp, pioneered by Hilton Seafood, has the potential to benefit billions of animals if adopted more widely across the industry.”

Danone’s dairy cow welfare tool

The other winner of a Special Recognition Award within the Innovation category was dairy giant Danone, for its global assessment tool for dairy cow welfare. This digital tool, which can be used on any tablet, helps farmers phase out inappropriate practices, such as tail-docking and dehorning. It creates a SMART Action plan for improvement, based on key inputs and welfare outcome measures – such as early colostrum feeding to calves, lameness, mastitis and body condition score – following a two-hour assessment conducted by the farmer.

Animal welfare is a key pillar of Danone’s Regenerative Agricultural Model – and because the company deals with milk supply in 14 different countries, the dairy giant wanted to develop a centralised tool that could be rolled out across its entire global supply chain, benchmarking all its farms against the same criteria.

By the end of 2020, over 400,000 dairy cows and 350,000 replacement young stock had already been assessed using the tool, which allowed farmers to start implementing welfare improvements. Danone has also shared the tool with other companies and partners around the world, providing a global benchmark tool with a focus on animal welfare.

“Having a global tool that provides clear guidelines and benchmarks motivates both the Danone team as well as the farmers on the most important topic of animal welfare,” said Cees Jan Hollander, Global Farming Expertise Manager at Danone. “I hugely appreciate the team’s efforts in the different countries that are doing an amazing job by using this tool to significantly improve dairy cow welfare.”

Dr Tracey Jones added: “Danone’s new digital tool provides direct on-farm action plans, tailored to each farm’s specific needs which are compared against a universal benchmark. It has the potential to help monitor and improve welfare on a global scale, thanks to Danone’s willingness to share it with other companies.


“In fact, both our Special Recognition Award winners in the Innovation category should be congratulated for their capacity to scale up and provide a global baseline for best practice facilitating huge improvements in animal welfare,” she concluded.

For a full run-down of the winners of this year’s Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards, go to:

Latest issue – Vol 1/23
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