let's talk farm animals

Practicing Animal Welfare every day on the farm

by Patricia Grotenhuis, Lifelong farmer and Agricultural Advocate

Many people are familiar with the term “animal rights”, and hearing can bring up images of activist groups on parade.  Animal rights supporters don’t believe humans have a right to use animals for any purpose. Activists are not usually interested in finding solutions but prefer to focus on problems and dramatic examples to generate funds and support.
A term which is heard less often in the general public is animal welfare, although this is the phrase that refers to what farmers and researchers are doing every day.

Whether it’s helping a cow have a calf on your birthday or checking on your chickens before you open your Christmas presents, caring for animals has been at the core of what farmers do every day for generations.

Animal welfare principles are as follows: humans have a right to use animals but also have a responsibility to treat them humanely.  People who practice animal welfare are looking out for the animal and doing everything possible for that animal’s well-being. Livestock depend on farmers for everything – 24/7 – and it’s something farmers don’t take lightly. We’re also consistently striving for continual improvement in farm animal care based on new and proven science.

Researchers are always trying to find ways to make farm animals more comfortable through improvements to housing and handling.  These studies are very important to farmers, and have led to countless improvements over the years. 
While I was in university, I worked at a dairy research facility where studies were being conducted on animal welfare.  I also worked as a student writer in the university’s office of research, and through that job learned of welfare trials being conducted with different species at the other research farms. 

Farmers follow the results of these studies closely and adapt their practices when superior methods of caring for their animals are identified. 

Major findings, such as the amount of space each animal needs, lead to changes in the Codes of Practice which are internationally-recognized models of responsible animal care. These Codes of Practice manuals are made available to farmers to ensure they have a reference when they are concerned about the best way to perform a job, or are making improvements to housing and handling facilities.  They are currently being updated to reflect new advances in animal care and research. For more on the Codes, see www.livestockwelfare.com

Farmers depend on animals for their livelihoods, and the healthier and more comfortable an animal is, the better they will perform for the farmer.  Following welfare guidelines and laws makes sense to farmers both from an ethical standpoint, and a business standpoint.


Posted by FFC on February 25th, 2011 :: Filed under Activism,Animal care,Animal health,Codes of Practice,Innovation and technology,Sustainability of the family farm
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One Response to “Practicing Animal Welfare every day on the farm”

  1. drjohn
    February 26th, 2011

    As you can see from my web page there are many uses for horse meat from animals that could be slaughtered humanely in the Unite States if congress could only see the benefit of the use of this meat and the terrible waste and suffering that goes on with the excess unwanted and can’t afford them any more horses. I couldn’t see a correct blog to put his on so I just picked one.

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