Waitrose is set to roll out a new mobile app allowing it to assess the “emotional state” of animals at its suppliers.
The technology allows Waitrose’s field teams to measure the emotionally expressive behaviours of livestock, including being relaxed, tense, playful or anxious.
Using the app, which was developed by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and is being trialled for two years by Waitrose, inspectors can record and quantify the different observed expressions.
Waitrose can then take this data, which will initially be gathered on dairy cows, veal calves, pigs, laying hens, broiler chickens and ducks, and assess and improve its welfare strategy.
“Good physical health is vital for welfare but there is clear consensus among the scientific community that factors such as enjoyment, contentment and positive excitement play an equally vital role in ensuring that an animal has a good life,” Professor Francoise Wemelsfelder said.
“Qualitative Behavioural Assessment (QBA) not only provides a way to assess these factors, it also opens up the conversation about what positive emotional wellbeing for an animal truly looks like.
“While this remains in development, the fact that the app will be trialled and developed at scale with a leading supermarket chain is an incredibly significant and positive step for the industry.”