Veterinarians, fur farming specialists and experts in farm management are receiving specialised training to become WelFur Advisers in the Latvian capital Riga between 28 and 30 March.
For full three days professionals with years of experience in fur animal breeding from across Europe are having extensive teaching sessions led by the scientists behind the certification programme WelFur and designed to prepare them to be WelFur advisers.
Costas Papavasiliou is a veterinarian and the appointed adviser for Greece. He said his professional background gives him a considerable advantage when he has to work with farmers.
‘’I work with mink on a daily basis for 4 years now. I am in contact with the animals all day long and I also used to be a worker even though I am a veterinarian. It’s just the contact with the company – you have to work on a farm and then you have the position. ’’
The role of the advisers is among the most important within the WelFur certification process as in each country the national adviser is helping farmers to improve their practices based on the assessment data from the farm.
Their counsel is necessary especially in cases where the WelFur result is unacceptable.
‘’Experience is one thing, but here I learnt how to talk to the farmers and how to make them feel comfortable to work with people from outside,’’ said Remigija Zaliene, a zoo engineer from Lithuania.
The training includes an introduction of the certification scheme and the details surrounding both fox and mink assessments but also goes into specifics such as teaching the participants how to do the mathematics behind the scoring system.
’The calculation and the practical exercises show us how WelFur score can be used in practice,’’ said Emilie Oldervik, the adviser responsible for the Norwegian farms.
The score from the farm is used as a tool for improving animal welfare and better farm management.
The implementation of WelFur started in January this year and already 450 European farms were assessed during the first period. This was the first of the three compulsory visits to get a WelFur certificate. The figure includes farms in Denmark, Finland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland and the Netherlands.
In addition to these countries, where fur breeders will also have another WelFur assessment in the second period, farmers from at least Belgium, France, Greece, Norway and Spain will also start the process of their WelFur certification soon. Until now 75% of the farmers in Europe have signed up to have at least one visit in 2017.