Welfare

 Industry Partners


Prairie Swine Centre is an affiliate of the University of Saskatchewan


Prairie Swine Centre is grateful for the assistance of the George Morris Centre in developing the economics portion of Pork Insight.

Financial support for the Enterprise Model Project and Pork Insight has been provided by:



Author(s): Rushen J;
Publication Date: January 1, 2001
Reference: , vol. 72: pp. 75-81.

Summary:

Animal welfare is difficult to define. Overall, the issue will be driven by public opinion. However, the lack of a definition has not impeded the government from imposing legislation on some animal welfare issues. Measuring animal welfare needs to be a multidisciplinary approach; measures should include: level of productivity, behaviour, physiology, health and immunity, and anatomy. Important societal issues, that affect which production systems are considered acceptable, also need to be taken into account. Some issues include the environmental impact, worker health and safety, consumer economics, public perceptions, community interactions, etc. Sustainable systems tie the most important issues together. The systems that do not negatively impact the environment, the workers, the animals and the community and are efficient and economically competitive, are sustainable. The US and Europe are investing in multidisciplinary approaches to evaluate whole-system impacts. If society demands higher standards of animal welfare or other assurances, the consumer must be willing to pay the added cost. If consumers are not willing to pay, some producers will go out of business. This would also have negative consequences for the community. In the case of international trade, if the domestic product is more expensive because the animals were raised according to higher welfare standards, but consumers can still buy a cheaper product from another country, which was raised with lower welfare standards, then the producers of the domestic product will suffer. In some cases, animal welfare and environmental protection are in conflict. Feeding sows high fiber diets to help them feel full, can increase the effluent. This hinders their ability to meet environmental standards. Another example is with pigs raised outside. To reduce environmental pollution in wet climates, outdoor sows must wear nose rings. The study of animal welfare needs to be a multidisciplinary approach, such that scientists and the public can agree the concept of animal welfare. Also, the effects that higher welfare standards have on other societal issues need to be considered, to ensure the sustainability of animal agriculture.

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