A talk with... Xavier Manteca, Farm Animal Welfare Education Center (FAWEC)

Prof. Xavier Manteca is professor at the School of Veterinary Science at Barcelona, where he teaches animal behaviour and animal welfare. He has been member of various working groups of the Panel on Animal Health and Welfare of the European Food Safety Authority and has published around 100 articles in prestigious international journals. He is the driving force behind the Farm Animal Welfare Education Center (FAWEC).

Where did you grow up? 

Xavier Manteca, professor at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

I was born in Barcelona and spent most of my childhood there. After receiving my BVSc degree I moved into a small town some 50 Km North of Barcelona, where I live now.

What motivates you in your research on animal well-being?

I have two motivations. One is to contribute to improving the living conditions of farm animals. The second one, which is equally important to me, is to help farmers to make a good living out of their business. I like both animals and farming, and my view of animal welfare science is that it helps both the animals and the farmers.

What made you decide to work on animal well-being?

First, as I said, I like farming, but there are certain aspects of it which I think could be improved for the benefit of both the animals and the producers. There is a second reason which is more academic in nature, as animal welfare science builds on physiology, animal behaviour, nutrition, genetics, etc and I find this multidisciplinary approach very attractive.

In your opinion, what is the single most important well-being issue in current animal production?

It is difficult to say, as there are several important issues. One of them is the recognition and alleviation of pain, as there are several conditions which happen to be very painful and have a high prevalence. Another issue which is very important in my opinion is the quality of the human-animal relationship. Indeed, both pain and a poor human-animal relationship have a very significant effect not only on the welfare of animals but also on their performance.

What is your favourite animal? 

I like all animals but if I have to choose, ruminants come first, so sheep and cattle will be on the top of my list.

You may be interested in reading: