Farmscape for January 27, 2016
A University of British Columbia Animal Welfare Program professor suggests shifting our attention from physical standards to standards of stockmanship will help improve animal welfare on the farm and gain the trust of consumers.
"30 Years of Animal Welfare" will be 1 of the topics discussed during the 2016 Manitoba Swine Seminar February 3 and 4 in Winnipeg.
Dr. David Frazer, a professor in the Animal Welfare Program with the University of British Columbia, says the intensification of animal agriculture and the adoption of modern technology to improve efficiency has been viewed by the public as an industrialization of agriculture and the response has been to try to regulate environments based on such factors as stocking density, air quality and so on.
Clip-Dr. David Frazer-University of British Columbia:
This approach turns out not to work very well.
To use a very rough analogy, suppose you were concerned about the well being of patients in a hospital and tried to solve the problem by regulating the number of beds in the room and the size of the windows.
That helps but the critical thing is the capability and conscientiousness of the doctors and nurses.
It's as if, in intensive agriculture, we've tried to solve the problems by regulating the environment when the human factors play such a huge role.
I think if we can refocus the attention of animal welfare away from just saying what should be the space allowance, the width of the crates, ammonia levels in the air and focus it onto the skill, knowledge and dedication of the people we will make much greater strides in assuring animal welfare and also help to generate public trust in the sector.
Dr. Frazer says superior stockmanship is critical and, as with the hospital analogy, what we're looking for is professional standards.
For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.
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