Agricultural Animal Welfare Does Agriculture improve the welfare of animals…? …or cause unnecessary suffering? This is not a question asked by many people of the world “A chicken in every pot, every Sunday!” General Concerns (all species) Decreasing Genetic Variability
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19 breeds just on BRITISH watch list are hundreds of breeds representing a broader range of genetics
(Rare Breeds Survival Trust)
Scottish Highland Cattle are hundreds of breeds representing a broader range of genetics
145 British are hundreds of breeds representing a broader range of genetics
breeds of sheep
(22 on Watch list)
Muscovy Duck are hundreds of breeds representing a broader range of genetics
Lack of genetic diversity occurs in many species, including chickens, ducks, cattle, and sheep (and is potentially dangerous - recall Irish potato famine).
Selection pressure is often specific to one trait which can create problems in other areas.
~ Selection for lean pigs with low fat create problems in other areas.
content led to pigs with nervous
and high strung temperaments.
~ Chickens with extra large breasts
grew so fast they developed
arthritis and deformed legs.
Grandin & Johnson 2005
Also, breeds are not always suited for their environment: Hereford cattle in hot, humid south, for example.
Parturition problems can be the cause of severe suffering in individual animals
~ Selection for large offspring in meat breeds
~ Age (less a problem on large operations)
Humane Slaughter Act (USDA enforced)
Meat Institute’s Good Mgt Practices for Animal Handling & Stunning
~ Passed 1978, enforced by USDA
~ All animals must be dead or stunned before “painful practice”
~ # inspectors decreasing, USDA no longer tracks violations.
(~ In US, remove hooves from 309/hour, or 5 animals a minute or 3 seconds a hoof).
~ Much slower in Europe (EU days)
Meat Institute’s Good Management
Practices for Animal Handling and Stunning
Improvements in Welfare Slaughter Act:
in Processing Plants
A la Temple Grandin and McDonald’s
1996 2002 2004
% Killed when first stunned
Veal calves (culled males)
Veal calves (culled males)
Female calves taken away
Transport/slaughter when culled
Tucker, Fraser and Weary 2001
~ 223 docked
~ 190 undocked
No treatment differences in cleanliness or health
Individuals differences significant
Pajor, Rushen and Passille 2003
~ Choice in Y-maze between:
~ Shouting Handler
~ Cattle Prod
~ Tail twist
~ Pail Feeding
~ No difference between shout vs cattle prod; tail twist not aversive
Poultry Welfare: Egg producers Slaughter Act:
banned in EU by 2012
Stocking density = 5 hens/18” by 20”
Average consumption per capita = 254 eggs/year (402/yr in 1945)~ 6.45 billion table eggs produced in 2004 ~ 64 companies with over 1 million layers each, 11 companies with over 5 million layers each~ Total of 283 million hens in 2004
University of Guelph, Ian Duncan” 2006
~ How hard laying eggs “work” to
reach a nest box?
~ Asked to push against weighted door to get to nest box.
~ Use same force, for same duration
As if food deprived for 30 hours.
“Free Range” Irrelevant 1945)
~ Chickens (and turkeys) found to have serious degenerative hip disorders.
~ When administered pain killing meds, turkeys lay down less, walked more, showed more spontaneous activity.
Hocking et al. 1999
Not ethics/ welfare…
Grazing Land is preserved