"The situation on a farm may change"

  • Subject
    Inspections, farms, animal welfare
  • Target audience
    Welfare inspectors
"You can’t completely trust what you have seen before” “Every day, I can learn something new about animal breeding. That makes my job as an inspector so much fun. I’ve been working here for eleven years since I graduated in Zootechnics at Poznań University of Life Sciences. I have a couple of responsibilities, such as cross compliance inspection and animal identification, registration and traceability inspection. I also work on disease control, e.g. African swine fever and Avian influenza. We also carry out inspections of biological materials. In addition to the inspections, I also have office duties."

Inspector: Agnieszka (35) from Poland

"It’s very interesting to see different ways of keeping animals. No inspection is the same. It’s also satisfying when I give advice, and see the improvements on my next visit. If farmers listen to my advice, I don't have to take unpleasant measures. On this job, you can really achieve something to improve animal welfare and health.

Some encounters with farmers I always remember in a positive way because these farmers really love what they do. A few years ago, I met a farmer and his wife. They have a herd of dairy cattle. I saw that they take excellent care of their herd. They had also started selling products like cheese, yoghurt, milk and butter directly from their farm. This couple makes money, has a modern farm and takes good care of their animals. I was impressed by their enthusiasm and professional farm management. It is so nice to revisit their place.

Unfortunately, things can be very different at some other farms. The worst situation we have discovered was when we found dead calves on a farm. Some of them were riddled with larvae. Other calves, who lived, were in poor condition. Such situations can only arise when a farmer barely takes care of his animals. I was surprised because I visited this farm a few years earlier and the animals were in good condition at that time. It was clear that something had happened in the meantime. We had to call the police. The local administration took the live calves and two pigs to a different farm. They are responsible for organising accommodation for the animals in such situations. I have learnt from this situation that you can’t completely trust your earlier experiences. Situations may change.

My advice to other inspectors is to make sure you have different areas of expertise in your team. The first and most important thing is to have a good lawyer in your office. A lawyer may give you advice and explain legal aspects when something is unclear to you. This prevents problems if you have doubts about how farmers must comply with the rules. Secondly, each inspector should have their own expertise and responsibilities. You don’t need to have knowledge about everything. You can be a specialist in your team!”

Agnieszka is a veterinary inspector in the Animal Health and Protection Team in the central part of Wielkopolska, Poland. The Veterinary Inspectorate resides under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and is responsible for inspections of farms and transportation.