Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health and the World Association for Buiatrics (WAB) have signed a long-term cooperative agreement to foster research related to animal welfare in ruminants. The "Ruminant Well-being Award" will be presented at each WBC (World Buiatrics Congress) for at least the next six years. By doing so, the WAB and Boehringer Ingelheim intend to raise public awareness of the important role veterinarians play in continuous improvement of animal welfare in food-producing ruminants. This is an additional component of Boehringer Ingelheim´s long-term commitment to improving the health and well-being of farm animals.

WAB President Professor Walter Baumgartner said: "It is of the utmost importance to us to constantly improve animal welfare. By doing so, we can additionally guarantee the production of high-quality food of animal origin for humans. As an internationally acknowledged association for vets working in the field of ruminants, we therefore strongly recommend that farm animals be provided with good animal welfare conditions."

The "Ruminant Well-being Award" will comprise € 15,000 in cash, plus the invitation to the World Buiatrics Congress, where the Award Ceremony will be held. Veterinarians from around the world working in the field of bovine/ruminant health gather at the WBC in alternate years. The next scheduled venue is to be Dublin, Ireland, from 3 to 8 July 2016.

The award will be open to practicing veterinary surgeons, researchers, or graduate students in veterinary (or animal) science. The award aims to recognise improvements in understanding and assessing pain or well-being in ruminants. It is hoped that candidates may have invented or validated methods to assess ruminant well-being on farm or have worked out strategies related to improvement of ruminant welfare on working farms. Educational efforts may also be recognised, such as raising awareness of issues of concern and changing human attitudes and behaviour to ensure proper stewardship of ruminants.

The winner of the award will be selected by an independent expert panel under the supervision of Xavier Manteca, Professor in Applied Ethology at the University of Barcelona and founder of the Farm Animal Welfare Education Centre (www.fawec.org). Professor Manteca commented on the award: "Animal welfare has become fundamentally important, not only for ethical reasons but also to guarantee the sustainability of the livestock industry. I am sure this award will make a significant contribution to ruminant welfare all over the world,"

A "Call for applications" will soon be published on the WAB website (www.buiatrics.com) and communicated to veterinarians globally through the WAB newsletter.