On June 1st 2012, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health hosted the 5th Farm Animal Well-Being Forum which brought together industry experts on animal health, pain and behaviour from around the world. The two topics discussed in detail were culling and pain at parturition. A number of speakers looked at the issues surrounding culling and whether it is a welfare issue. The second half of the meeting looked at how painful parturition is to farm animals.
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5th Expert Forum on Farm Animal Well-being, Lisboa (Portugal), 2012
Culling of farm animals and welfare implications
Dr. Suzanne T. Millman
Iowa State University, USA
Both farmers and veterinarians take care of food producing animals with the aim to keep them healthy, productive and to avoid suffering. In addition to compromised animals that are ill or injured, on a daily basis, they have to take the decision to remove healthy animals from the farm for sale, slaughter or euthanasia because they are not sufficiently profitable and can be replaced by better and higher profitable ones. How may welfare of farm animals at culling (slaughter or killing) be addressed?
Is culling of unproductive animals ethically justified?
Prof. Dr. Elsbeth Stassen
Wageningen University, the Netherlands
According to animal rights supporters, it is never a fair deal for animals to be kept for production purposes. Other think that animals can be kept for production purposes as long as they are provided with a decent life and killed humanely. The culling of a healthy, less productive animal may, however, be in some cases morally questioned.
Culling factors and culling management strategies on dairy farms
The cost of maintaining the herd (the cost of rearing replacements or buying them in minus the value of culls sold) is a major proportion of dairy farm variable costs.Culling rate is influenced by many factors which must all be understood and managed to ensure both profitability and good animal welfare.
Culling early or culling late – A trade off between farm profits and cow welfare?
SAC, Animal and Veterinary Sciences, UK
Involuntary culling has welfare implications for the cow and represents an economic loss for the farmer. His economic decision on when to cull a cow may not occur at the same time as the ”cow’s welfare-based decision” on when to be culled. Understanding of relationships between profit, investment in remedial practices, expected lifespan and involuntary culling in dairy systems can help to assess the optimum replacement policies at cow level.
Improving the welfare of the transition cow
Prof. Marina von Keyserlingk and Prof. Dan Weary
University of British Columbia, Canada
The high incidence of health disorders associated with calving can negatively affect cow milk production and reproductive performance. Although behavioural signs have long been considered indicative of illness there is surprisingly little scientific research that specifically addresses the value of behaviour as a disease indicator. Behavioural changes can be used to predict, identify, and assess health problems in the transition cow.
Practical methods to reduce pain associated with obstetrical procedures in cattle
Dr. Kenneth Joubert
Veterinary Anaesthesia, Analgesia & Critical Care Services, South Africa
Animals feel pain and pain management should be considered when performing painful procedures. Dystocia and a variety of peri-parturient, birth-related conditions are likely to be painful. Management of pain through anaesthesia and/or analgesia should be part of treatment of these conditions. Improving the well-being of the post-parturient animal is crucial for its subsequent health and fertility.
Pain and discomfort associated with caesarean section in cattle
Alice Barrier and Dr. Cathy Dwyer
Scottish Agricultural College, Edinburgh, UK
Cows that have undergone a caesarean section are likely to experience post-surgical pain. Post-partum activity was investigated in beef cattle. Cow’s activity and lying behaviour were monitored to detect changes indicative of post-partum pain and discomfort following non-elective caesarean section, and the effects of meloxicam therapy to mitigate postoperative pain were assessed.
Use of NSAIDs around calving
Prof. Todd F. Duffield
University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada
Although it is very likely that there are many positive benefits to treating dairy cows with NSAIDs post-calving, an important question is the timing of administration post-calving. Concerns remain about the retention of foetal membranes, although the current literature on NSAID therapy post-calving and the risk of retained placenta is mixed.