Improving animal welfare is a priority within the dairy and beef industries, however, it is important for producers to recognize that it may not always be possible to realize an economic benefit from these actions. “Sometimes the economic outcome of an animal welfare measurement is redundant because it is just the right thing to do,” said Dr. Tye Perrett, Managing Partner with Feedlot Health Management Services, speaking at the 9th Boehringer Ingelheim Expert Forum on Farm Animal Well-being. “If it is the right thing to do, just do it. Use economics to drive other decisions.” This concept, and other strategies for better welfare that improve animal health and farm economics, were the focus of the expert forum held in Montreal, Canada in June 2016. More than 80 international delegates heard presentations by North American and European experts and veterinary researchers on a range of topics including the role of big data in improving animal welfare on dairy farms, social license in agriculture, and animal welfare audits.
Because farm animal
9th Expert Forum on Farm Animal Well-being, Montreal (Canada), 2016
Farm animal welfare through the eyes of key stakeholders versus consumers
Department of agricultural economics at Ghent University, Belgium
Veterinarians consider maintaining health and controlling pain a priority for ensuring good well-being on farm. Consumers are more concerned about “lack of naturalness” and perceived cruelty. A better understanding of the differences in perception may be beneficial for facilitating public debate and improving communication between beef and dairy producers and citizens.
The many eyes on farm animal welfare: the veterinarian’s response, responsibility and leadership
Abbotsford Veterinary Clinic, Canada
Veterinarians may make assumptions that producers don’t want to spend money to improve the well-being of their animals. Such assumptions are often false perceptions. Testimony of a practice that has set up a successful strategy around animal welfare.
Welfare related benefits in health and economics are arguments a producer understands
Feedlot Health, Canada
Although ensuring animal well-being may for some stakeholders be perceived as an ethical rather than an economic discussion, there are some direct production benefits from pain relief and better well-being. Ensuring proper animal husbandry can be a first step and improved production outcomes can be the first argument to convince a cattle producer.
From the lab to life: taking research findings into the world
UC Davis, USA
Pain, whether caused by disease or management procedures, causes some behavioral changes in the cow which may indirectly have its repercussions on production. On overview of the current scientific knowledge on the short and long-term benefits of pain relief in dairy and beef production.
Influence of stress and pain on immunity
Texas Tech University, USA
Weaning is an extra-ordinary stressful moment in a young calf’s life. Knowing the mechanisms by which stress interferes with immunity helps to change strategies which will benefit both health and welfare of the calf.
Can Big Data help improve animal welfare on dairy farms?
University of Guelph, Canada
New technologies such as activity meters, calf feeders or data recordings on milking machines have become broadly available on dairy farms. The data they provide have a tremendous potential to record and improve well-being on today’s dairies.
Compromise products to encourage animal friendly consumption
Hans van Trijp
Wageningen University, The Netherlands
In surveys, consumers identify animal welfare as a top priority in their buying decisions. However, buying behavior does not reflect that. Including compromise products in the assortment leads to a reduction in the market share of meat produced at minimum welfare standards and less consumers who refrain from choosing meat.
The importance of social license in agriculture
Farm and Food Care, Canada
In past times, more people had a direct connection to farming and understood how meat or milk is produced. Farmer’s didn’t have to explain why they do certain things. Now the majority of people live in urban areas. Moving forward, beef and dairy producers will need to invest more in communication in order to guarantee their “social license to produce”.
Bernard E. Rollin
Colorado State University, USA
Animal welfare is currently driven by consumer pressure in industrialized countries. How does that fit into a global market where food is more and more produced in countries where animal welfare is not a concern of society?
Living up to consumer expectations – Animal welfare audits in dairy, the new normal
Dean Foods Co., USA
The economic benefit of improving welfare and animal well-being is not just the potential of higher production benefits. Producers should consider it a way to open new markets or secure their existing market.