Three Components of a G.A.P. Farm Audit
Have you ever wondered what an auditor is actually looking for during a G.A.P. animal welfare farm audit? The G.A.P. standards outline specific requirements for ideal animal welfare using three different measurements to assess compliance. These three categories are animal-based, measurement-based, and records-based observations.
- Animal-based observations: Accredited, independent third-party auditors will inspect the animals that are on site; observing the animals’ behavior, inspecting the cleanliness of the animal as well as its living conditions, looking for any signs of poor health (like lameness or sickness), and checking for signs of injurious behavior (like tail biting in pigs or feather pecking in turkeys). This will help the auditor determine compliance with G.A.P.’s animal welfare standards for the current group of animals, and to ensure that what the producer is seeing and recording is the same as what the auditor sees.
- Measurement-based observations: Compliance to some of G.A.P.’s standards are determined by measurements. For example, compliance to the “stocking density” requirement is calculated by dividing the square footage of an area by the number of animals housed in that space, and is used to determine that the animals have enough space to move around and display their natural behaviors.
- Records-based observations: G.A.P. requires records to be kept of daily flock or herd inspections and of other important events that occur on-farm. For example, is air quality being monitored and recorded every day? Did the air quality ever exceed the thresholds allowed? All of this information should be recorded. Checking historical records gives the auditor insight into how the farm and animals were managed in between audits.
Though a farm audit can seem intimidating, G.A.P. has resources available to help you. Before your scheduled audit, check out G.A.P.’s Audit Preparation Tools (for Beef, Broiler Chickens, Turkeys, Sheep, Pigs, Goats, Bison, and Pullets/Laying Hens). These are checklists that ask “yes-or-no” questions to help you determine what Step level you can achieve and to help identify areas that you need to work on. Though these checklists are not required, some producers have found them very helpful.
And don’t forget – when in doubt, reach out to your preferred certifier or directly to G.A.P. for more help (firstname.lastname@example.org). Check out our website for more information about a farm audit or farm animal welfare standards.