| Animal Welfare : Summary
Ever since man left the status of hunting and gathering he has domesticated
animals for food production. At the same time husbandry systems have been
developed and selection procedures employed. Demographic changes, urbanisation
and the resulting demand for food have led to increased specialisation and
performance of farm animals, intensified highly efficient husbandry systems
and resulted in regional concentrations of animal production. Affluent
societies more and more object to such developments. Public acceptance of animal
production is closely linked to care for the environment, quality of products
and animal welfare onfarm, during transport and slaughter. Animal welfare relates
to the animal's ability to cope with its environment.
Complex and individual relations in response to the environment have so far
not received sufficient scientific attention and lag behind legal and public demands.
Environmental stimuli result in a cascade of adaptation mechanisms within
the organism and activate endogenous regulatory systems including the immune system.
Some reactions are reflected in behavioural experiments.
Domesticated animal preserve basic elements of behaviour throughout evolution;
however, environmentally-dependent adaptation must be taken into account.
- Interpretations of the animal's state of welfare can no longer be based
solely on behavioural observations. Conclusions must be based on thorough functional
and motivational analysis.
Pain adversely affects both welfare and productivity of farm animals.
Pain is a concept involving noxious stimuli that evoke protective
motor, behavioural, emotional and physiological reactions.
Clinical ethology may assist to analyse at least grave problems of the
animals welfare and uncover underlying causes.
Production diseases often result from a combination of deficits
related to genetics, husbandry and management.
All concepts of welfare indicators may eventually improve the welfare of animals.
New technologies (e.g. biotechnology) should be accompanied
by multidisciplinary research to detect and consider deleterious side effects and welfare problems.
For the producer animal production serves to obtain income.
Implementation of society's demands for animal welfare will largely depend
on incentives to the producer and on international observations of welfare
codes (including WTOcountries)
Legal constraints must be based on sufficient scientific evidence or
on established practical experience.
The consumer needs to be prepared to bear the cost of welfare for the animal.
The export of welfare problems must be taken into account.
Finally, a sense of responsibility for all parties involved will improve animal welfare.