AWI’s Good Husbandry Grants—administered through AWI’s Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) farm certification program—were initiated in 2008 to support individual projects on farms and ranches across North America that have a clear and positive impact on animal welfare and promote the ability of animals to express natural behaviors while being raised outdoors, on pasture.
Over the past six years, the grants have supported more than 200 successful projects. Two AWA farms that received Good Husbandry Grants in prior years were featured in a January 20th New York Times article about the growing consumer concern over animal welfare issues in our food production system, and the increasing number of hog farmers who are raising animals outside—shunning the indoor confinement and severely cramped stalls used in large-scale industrial settings.
This past year, 35 grants were awarded for projects that provided improved outdoor access and mobile housing, breeding programs that facilitate pasture-based management, non-lethal predator control, and other innovative projects that improve animal welfare. One grant, to Joyce Keibler of Hemmer Hill Farm in Crestwood, Kentucky, enabled Joyce to construct an innovative “shade sail” that provided her sheep protection from the sun and elements. (In many cases, farmers new to a given plot of land are dealing with the results of industrialized agriculture, which demands open, flat, treeless fields for machine access—to the detriment of animals who may later graze there.)
Another grant helped Dominick and Jeanette Siniscalchi of SMI Farm in Masonville, New York, integrate their laying hen operation into a rotational system with their cattle. With grant funds, the Siniscalchis erected a moveable chicken coop and fencing that allows them to easily move their chicken flock to follow the cattle from field to field, facilitating successful rotation that benefits each species as well as the farm environment.