Maintaining a healthy herd is crucial to cashmere producers’ way of life and future prosperity. Through the global principle of ensuring goat welfare, the SFA draws on traditional knowledge and internally recognised best practice to ensure goat health and well-being. In their revised standard, the SFA has shifted from the five freedoms model to five domains model of animal welfare: (1) nutrition, (2) physical environment, (3) health, (4) behavioural interactions and (5) mental state. This is to ensure that the standard encourages positive experiences and emotional states for goats, as well as minimising suffering and discomfort as much as possible.
The SFA Mongolia team are currently carrying out an Animal Welfare Improvement Project which aims to better understand implementation challenges and ultimately to improve compliance with the SFA Cashmere Standard. The first stage of the project will be to conduct an assessment of audit reports across a sample of SFA herder cooperatives, where they will identify common areas of low compliance with goat welfare requirements. In the second stage, they will survey a sample of cooperatives to explore why herders are struggling to comply with these particular requirements, and work with cooperative leaders to design a targeted capacity building programme to improve compliance in these areas. Understanding why herders might be struggling to comply with recommended welfare-based practices, and then working to address barriers to compliance and increase the uptake of these practices provides a promising pathway for raising welfare standards across Mongolia and helping ensure a long-term supply of responsibly-sourced cashmere.
- Goats must not be fed spoiled or contaminated feed.
- Access to feeding and water points must be monitored such that all goats can eat and drink safely and without crowding.
- Goats must not be fed animal-derived products, with permitted exceptions.
- Growth hormone promoters or non-therapeutic antibiotics for growth promotion must not be administered to goats.
- Effective measures must be taken to prevent goats eating poisonous or harmful plants.
- Goats must have access to adequate and appropriate nutrition for their needs.
- Goats access to feed and water must only be restricted for reasonable management practices.
- Any change to goat diet must be introduced gradually to avoid digestive upset.
- Where applicable, goats must have access to materials to browse, such as shrubs and bushes.
- Where applicable, goats must have access to natural grazing pasture for as much of the year as possible, unless adverse weather conditions would negatively impact their welfare.
- A written Feeding Management Plan should be in place, with permitted exceptions.
- Any purchased or externally sourced feed or feed additives must have a “pollution-free” certification.
Safe & Comfortable Shelter
- Shelters and fencing (where applicable) must be designed, constructed, maintained and cleaned to prevent injury, infection, escape and attack from predators.
- Housing / shelters must be well ventilated and provide natural light.
- If artificial lighting is used in housing / shelters, there must be a period of low-level lighting during the day to promote resting behaviour.
- If artificial lighting is used in housing / shelters, its use must not exceed 16hrs in a single 24hr period.
- Housing / shelters must have access to bedding or a suitable flooring which is dry, maintained at an appropriate level of cleanliness, is sufficient to lie down and avoids discomfort.
- The flooring for housed goats must provide good traction. Where possible, housed animals should not be kept on a slatted floor.
- Housed goats who are sick, injured, pregnant or young must not be kept on a slatted floor.
- Wet manure must be removed from housing / shelters as required.
- Housing / shelters must provide a minimum space that allows goats to move and rest.
- Goats in farming systems must have access to an exercise area that is at least 2.5x times larger than their usual housing / shelter.
- Goats must have access to effective shelter / windbreaks (natural or artificial) to protect them from adverse weather conditions.
- Goats must not be knowingly exposed to potentially toxic chemicals, including paints, wood preservatives, disinfectants or any other toxic product.
- Goats must be provided an area that is free from dangerous debris and objects.
- Where goats are at risk from predators, measures must be taken to reduce risk of attack and injury.
- Facilities should be available to house and/or segregate heavily pregnant, weak, sick, injured or disabled goats.
- Goats must be handled calmly, humanely and without excessive force. Goats must not be subject to abuse or mistreated in anyway.
- Handling of kids, pregnant females, injured, lame or sick animals must be done with additional care than that of healthy animals.
- Goats must only be tethered or confined to crates following best practice, for long as is necessary and only to address special needs. Tethers and crates must be designed and maintained so as to not cause distress or injury.
Monitoring for Sickness
- Vaccinations (if administered) must be undertaken following veterinary advice.
- Goats must be observed at least once in a 24hour period to check for sickness, injury or abnormal behaviour.
- Goats that are identified as sick, lame or injured must be given appropriate observation, immediate treatment, care, feeding and, when necessary, kept in a separate pen.
- Measures must be taken to prevent and control parasitic infections.
- Goat hooves must be checked at a minimum of twice a year, sooner if required, and trimmed as required to prevent lameness.
- Newly acquired goats must be quarantined for a minimum of 30 days from all other animals, avoiding complete isolation. They can only be fully integrated to the herd after they are confirmed as disease-free.
- Medical treatments must only be administered to goats in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations.
- Treatment records for goats should be kept or accessible if not kept by the herder
- Medical or biological waste, including unused or expired medications and equipment, must be disposed of safely and responsibly.
- Herds must be assessed by a qualified veterinarian at least once a year, sooner if required, to review animal welfare and established welfare management plans / procedures.
- Farms must have a written welfare plan. The plan should be reviewed at least annually, sooner if required.
- Mortality rates must be monitored for all animals and action taken if mortality rates exceed expected levels.
Positive Interactions with Environment
- Goats must be kept in stable groups of familiar conspecifics, with opportunity for bonding and other affiliative interactions.
- Kids must not be weaned until they are a minimum age or a percentage of their adult weight.
- Breeding bucks must not be separated from other goats outside of the breeding season.
- Goats must have access to environmental enrichment that encourage exploratory, foraging and play behaviours.
- Goats must only be kept in isolation under exceptional circumstances.
- Newborns must be given opportunity to bond with the herd.
- Goats must experience positive interactions with humans that build trust and promote calmness, confidence and compliant responsiveness within the herd.
- Breeding selection of goats must consider goat health, welfare traits and suitability for the environment.
- Artificial insemination practices must be carried out by competent personnel and follow recognised best practice.
- Cloned, genetically engineered or gene-edited goats are prohibited.
- Goats must not be mated until they are at least a minimum age dependent on their gender.
- Minimum breeding intervals for does must be followed.
- Herds must have an appropriate gender ratio, dependent on the age of the bucks.
- Breeding records should be kept and tagged.
- Does close to giving birth must be provided with access to shelter.
- Newborns areas must be kept clean and dry with sufficient, appropriate bedding.
- When necessary, additional measures must be taken to keep newborns warm.
- All kids must receive sufficient colostrum, whether by natural methods or manual assistance, within 24 hours of birth, with the first feed occurring within 2 hours of birth.
- Kids that are unable to suckle sufficiently must be fed manually or fostered and have milk in their diet for a minimum timeframe.
- Fresh fibrous food must be available for kids from an appropriate age.
- Producers must be sufficiently familiar with birthing and problems arising during birthing to know when to intervene and when to request assistance.
- If C-section is required, it must be carried out by a veterinarian, using appropriate equipment and providing necessary aftercare.
- If C-section rates exceed expected levels during a kidding cycle appropriate measure must be taken.
- Producers must identify and monitor the prevalence of problems occurring during pregnancy and birthing and take action if expected levels are exceeded.
- Prior to the kidding season, adequate suppliers of colostrum must be available in case of emergency.
Castration & Marking
- Castration must only be carried out when absolutely necessary from a herd management and welfare perspective.
- Where possible, castration must be carried out before kids reach 8 weeks of age.
- Castration must only be carried out under suitable conditions by competent personnel, using methods that minimise pain and suffering, and include post-operative hygiene, observation and care.
- De-scenting, disbudding, dehorning, and removal of goat wattles are strictly prohibited.
- Goat marking for the purposes of identification must be performed in accordance with recognised best practice, using well-maintained and fit for purpose tools. Hot-iron branding is strictly prohibited.
- Goats must only be euthanised if they are experiencing pain or sickness and have no prospect of recovery, have not responded to treatments or are subject to chronic suffering.
- Goats must only be euthanised using a method that causes a rapid and irreversible loss of consciousness with minimum pain and distress.
- Euthanasia must only be carried out by competent and trained personnel who use appropriate, well-maintained equipment.
- Goats must be stunned prior to euthanasia using appropriate methods and equipment, which follow best practice.
- If the goat is going to be used as food, drug withdrawal prior to euthanasia must follow veterinary instructions to ensure any medication, treatment or injection content is no longer present in the goat’s body.
- Goat carcasses are removed promptly and disposed of hygienically in a designated disposal zone or area.
- Diseased carcasses must not be fed to other animals.
- Working animals must be properly trained as to not cause injury, distress, or pain to other animals.
- Working animals must have an adequate supply of food and water every day.
- Working animals must receive prompt veterinary care when it is required.
- Working animals must be handled in a way that avoids injury, fear and distress.
- Working animals must not be continuously tethered or tethered in a way that restricts their breathing. The use of choke chains is strictly prohibited.
- Mutilation of working animals is strictly prohibited.
- Working animals must receive appropriate vaccination and parasite control.
- Working dogs must have a sleeping area that is not on bare concrete or metal and have access to suitable shelter / protection during adverse weather conditions.
- A suitable first-aid kit for working animals must be accessible at all times.
Fibre Harvesting Appropriate for Setting & Weather
- The method of fibre harvesting must be appropriate to the production system.
- When using the combing method, fibre must only be harvested when it begins to shed naturally.
- Harvesting fibre outside must only be conducted during suitable weather conditions and when it does not pose a health risk to goats. Fibre harvesting must be suspended if adverse weather conditions arise.
- Measures must be taken to ensure goats do not suffer from cold weather after their fibre has been harvested.
Fibre Harvesting Minimises Discomfort
- Fibre harvesting must only be carried out by competent personnel, using appropriate techniques and well-maintained equipment that minimises discomfort and risk of injury to the goat.
- Goats’ access to food must be restricted prior to fibre harvesting.
- Goats must be gradually desensitised to the combing or shearing process from a young age.
- Goats must only be restrained during fibre harvesting using best practice approaches that do not restrict blood circulation or cause distress or injury.
- Goats must not be left unsupervised whilst under temporary restraint.
- Herders must monitor the injuries obtained during fibre harvesting and take appropriate steps to improve fibre harvesting practices.
Handling & Transport
- Goats must be fit for transport. Goats that are sick, injured, unable to stand unaided, are in the last 2 months of gestation, kids whose umbilical cord has not healed, or are otherwise are at risk during transport must not be transported unless to receive medical treatment.
- Goats must be protected from heat and cold stress during transport.
- When goats are moved on foot, this must happen at a pace that does not cause exhaustion or heat stress to the goats.
- Transport vehicles must have enough space for goats to stand, lie down and without their heads touching the roof (if there is one).
- Use of electronic prods, electro-immobilisers and similar electronic devices are strictly prohibited.
- Goats must have access to feed and water within two hours prior to loading for transport.
- Transport vehicles and loading facilities must be adequately designed, constructed, maintained, cleaned and operated to avoid goat distress and injury.
- For journeys over 8 hours, goats are provided water, feed, and rest according to their needs.
- Goats must not be sold for international slaughter.