Dovecote Park and WATOK: An update

Over the last 2 years, Dovecote Park have continued to improve our standards as an industry leading business when it comes to animal welfare - including becoming a licensed animal welfare training centre in 2016, and now licensed to train independently from our site.
Animal welfare has always been a fundamental element of how Dovecote Park have conducted ourselves as a business over the last two decades. We are proud to have continually pushed the boundaries of welfare standards, and to have been a leading company in promoting animal welfare standards – on the farms who supply us, in transit, and at our facilities. 

To enable us to ensure full compliance with WATOK (Welfare at the Time of Killing) legislation we established ourselves as a Training Centre in 2016, headed up by Damien McKnight our Training Manager, we now undertake our own animal welfare training and assessments on site, moving away from the standard practice of using external bodies. This is not only cost-effective, but allows us further control over how we handle animal welfare training practices among our staff giving opportunity for flexibility and bespoke training according to the requirements and ability of each individual person. 

2017 saw a significant new introduction to our business with the opening of our bespoke venison facilities, allowing us to process deer at our Stapleton site. Whilst we had a long history of packaging and promoting venison, the addition of a venison lairage necessitated a new perspective of welfare and handling, in order to accommodate a totally new species. In total, we have had 15 staff members trained to correctly handle deer within the new facility. We are also delighted to have become certified to train people from other businesses on our site – making us the first processor in the United Kingdom to hold this certification. 

Following an assessment in May from the FDQ, Dovecote Park have received exceptionally positive feedback, describing our practices as ‘outstanding’ and the business’s approach to exacting welfare standards as, ‘exemplary’. Below is an extract of the FDQ assessment. The EQA visit and findings at this centre were outstanding. Damien and Mark work very well as a team and continue to ensure that the qualification is properly assessed, run and managed to a high standard of quality. The supporting portfolio material that has been developed for the qualification was exemplary and I have taken a copy of this as an example of good practice. Previous action points have been addressed. I informed Damien that the only reason I could not award Green status was that I have not visited the satellite centre. This is to be arranged for August. A big well done to all concerned! 

We are delighted to have made such progressive steps in welfare, and are very excited to see the changes implemented over the next 18 months. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Training, Abattoir, Lairage and Livestock staff who have worked extremely hard to help implement the new system.