Farmscape for February 25, 2016
A UBC professor says livestock producers who achieve the highest standards of animal welfare need to be held up as the examples for the rest of the industry.
Over the past 40 years the public's interest in issues related to animal welfare has increased exponentially.
Dr. David Fraser, a professor in the Animal Welfare Program at the University of British Columbia, says we see a lot of public concern not matched by a high level of awareness of the complexity of the issues.
Clip-Dr. David Fraser-University of British Columbia:
The public has been focused mostly on restrictive housing conditions and so we've seen a move away from standard cages for laying hens, gestation crates for sows, perhaps individual crates for veal calves.
These are the things that the public is aware of and have put enough pressure on to lead to changes but, of course, achieving good animal welfare outcomes is far more complex than that so we haven't seen anything comparable in some of other areas.
I think the critical step is for the animal production sectors to become organized in a way that ensures that the participants in those sectors are achieving high welfare outcomes.
Some producers are doing an exceptionally good job of achieving very low levels of lameness, disease, mortality, keeping animals in comfortable environments, low stress handling and so on.
I think it's a matter of capturing the skill and knowledge of those producers and having that become the norm rather than just the leading edge.
Dr. Fraser says the public tends to associate good animal welfare with very simple slogans like cage-free or free range but achieving good animal welfare requires attention to everything from handling to nutrition to disease prevention to pain mitigation and more.
For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.
*Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork