A comparison of three animal welfare assessment programs on California dairies

Carolyn Stull, B. A. Reed, S. L. Berry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Due to increased awareness of animal welfare issues by consumers, 3 voluntary programs were developed to assess animal welfare on commercial dairies in the United States. These programs include: 1) Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), with minimum standards and a third-party audit system; 2) Dairy Quality Assurance Center (DQAC); and 3) University of California-Davis (UCD) program with self-assessments. The objective of this article was to provide an overview of the similarities and differences in content and scope of these programs. Furthermore, to ascertain the practical application of these programs on commercial dairies, a study was designed to compare the rank order of compliance scores of each program on 10 commercial California dairies using a survey and personal interviews with dairy owners or managers. The survey combined 316 statements from the DQAC checklist, the UCD assessment, and the HFAC standards. The mean (± SD) percentage compliance for the DQAC, HFAC, and UCD programs was 83 ± 8, 94 ± 3, and 85 ± 6%, respectively. A ranking order from 1 to 10 was assigned to each dairy using the compliance score for each assessment program. Comparisons of ranking order between programs were not significant, indicating that different indices were being measured by each program. All programs, however, identified the same 2 lowest-ranking dairies, which indicated that the programs were able to identify facilities with the weakest welfare practices. The survey results show that selection of the available assessment programs for animal welfare on the dairy is important in determining the outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1595-1600
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005


  • Animal welfare
  • Auditing
  • Certification
  • Welfare standard

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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