Improving Animal Welfare: A Practical Approach (2nd Edition)

Edited by Dr. Temple Grandin
Colorado State University, USA

ISBN: 978-1-78064-467-7
c. 368 pages
131 figures/illustrations

Subject Classifcation: KNAC, PSVP, TVH, TW
Territorial Market Rights: World
Published by CABI

Links for ordering:


Chapter 1: An introduction to implementing an effective animal welfare program.

by Temple Grandin, Colorado State University

This chapter covers

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 1...


Since the publication of the first edition of this book in 2010, there has been a worldwide exponential increase in the number of research studies, books, new animal welfare guidelines, legislation, and websites about animal welfare (Walker et al., 2014). Government regulations in different countries vary greatly, from very strict to none at all. A person who is new to the field of animal welfare is likely to become overwhelmed by the massive amounts of new information. Students, farm managers, veterinarians, and others who are in the field may say to themselves, "Animal welfare has become so complex, where do I start?" This book will not attempt to review all the regulations and new literature but, instead, it will include the most practical scientific information and combine it with recommendations for use on commercial operations. Animal welfare is a global issue (Fraser et al., 2013), and this book contains information that can be put to everyday use in both the developed and the developing world. There is certain basic information that can be used to improve animal welfare anywhere in the world. Quick Access Information boxes have been placed throughout the text to allow the reader easy access to summarized basic information.

There is also a need for information on how to implement assessment programs, SOPs (standard operating procedures), and other strategies that will improve animal welfare and prevent animal abuse. This is a hands-on, "how-to" guide that provides practical information for veterinarians, animal scientists, producers, transporters, auditors, government agencies, quality assurance managers, and others who work in the field with animals. Too often, legislation will be passed to ban some terrible practice, but it still continues because little is done in the field to implement change. Another problem is that people who draft legislation may have little knowledge of conditions in the field.

Recommendations on implementing animal welfare programs are based on over 15 years of the editor’s experience in developing and implementing welfare auditing systems for major retailers and restaurants (Grandin, 2000, 2005). The author has visited over 500 farms and slaughter plants in 26 different countries. This book will also help the reader use more effectively the knowledge that can be obtained from many other sources. It will make it possible to bring about real changes that will improve the treatment of livestock, poultry, and fish on farms, in transport vehicles, and in slaughter plants. The principles of implementing an effective animal welfare program are the same for all species.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE, 2014a) has published specific welfare guidelines for the slaughter of livestock and poultry, the transport of livestock, depopulation of farms after a disease outbreak, beef cattle production, and broiler chicken production. Additional guidelines are available for farmed fish slaughter, transport, and depopulation (OIE, 2014a). Guidelines for dairy farms, pork production, and laying hens are under development. OIE guidelines are minimum, basic international standards for the entire world. Many countries and large meat-buying customers will often have more strict standards. Large food retailers and restaurant chains are now requiring that their suppliers comply with their own animal welfare standards. The economic incentive provided by these large buyers is a major force for improving animal welfare in both the developed and the developing world (Webster, 2012). Non-governmental organization (NGO) animal advocacy groups are also influential in promoting the development of animal welfare standards and legislation.

Goals of the book

A This book has five main goals:
  1. To help managers, veterinarians, and policy makers to implement effective practical auditing, regulatory, and assessment programs that will improve the welfare and treatment of livestock, poultry, and farmed fish.
  2. To provide practical information that will directly improve welfare in critical areas such as slaughter, transport, handling, euthanasia, care of working animals, and painful surgical procedures.
  3. To help the reader understand the importance of animal behavior in assessing animal welfare and its role in the design of production housing and handling systems.
  4. To discuss the role of ethics in animal welfare in an easy-to-understand manner.
  5. To understand how economic incentives can be used both to improve welfare and reduce economic losses in farm animals. Improvements in husbandry, handling, stockmanship, and transport will improve animal productivity, and reduce losses due to bruises, sickness, mortalities, lameness, and other problems (Hemsworth and Coleman, 2010; Huertas etal., 2010).

Effects of electronic media on animal welfare

Since the first edition of this book, there has also been a massive increase in the number of mobile telephones that can take high-quality video. Videos of atrocious animal abuse have caused trade disruptions and public outcry, and have forced companies to improve practices. The first step in creating an effective animal welfare program is to prevent animal abuse. Compliance with legislative paperwork is not going to protect a farm when animal abuse is caught on video that has been shown around the world. Some videos have gone viral and have been seen by millions of viewers. There is a tendency in many welfare guidelines and legislation to turn compliance into keeping records and filling out forms instead of monitoring actual practices in the field. The author’s emphasis is going to be on what is actually happening on the the farm or at the slaughter plant.

The First step in implementing an animal welfare pgogram is stopping obvious abusive practices. Some examples of overt abuse that are not permitted by the OIE (2014a) are beating animals, deliberately breaking legs, cutting tendons, dragging nonambulatory downed animals, or driving an animal by poking sensitive areas such as the rectum. Overloading a truck that causes animals to die or get trampled under other animals is another practice that must be stopped. Some examples of production conditions on a farm that are totally abusive are animals housed in filth, where manure is not removed, or high ammonia levels or dust concentrations in intensive housing. Neglected health problems, such as necrotic prolapses, advanced cancer eye, starvation, or over-crowding to the point that animals have to lie on top of each other are also not acceptable. The first step in any program is to eliminate all of the above problems. There is further information in Quick Access Information 1.1.

Steps for the Effective Implementation of an Animal Welfare Program

Many experts on animal welfare agree that preventing overt abuse is not the only thing that guarantees good welfare (Broom, 2011; Keeling et al., 2011; Mellot and Webster, 2014). The author agrees with these concerns. To simplify understanding of welfare issues, the author has listed four types of welfare problems in order of priority. This will be especially useful in developing countries when a program is being implemented initially.
Step 1
Eliminate abuse, neglect, and cruelty (Quick Access information 1.1). This requires management supervision, and fancy new facilities will not fix these problems.
Step 2
Initiate the measurement systems and assessment tools outlined in the rest of this book to reduce the percentage of animals that have a serious welfare problem, such as poor body condition (skinny, ribs showing), lameness (difficulty in walking), dirty, or sores and injuries (Quick Access Information 1.1). Lameness is a major problem (Von Keyserlingh et al., 2012). Programs should also be implemented for the assessment and continuous monitoring of handling, transport, and slaughter practices. Many serious welfare problems can be identified easily at the slaughter plant (Quick Access information 1.2). The advantage of assessment at the slaughter plant is that large numbers of animals from many farms can be viewed in a short period. The disadvantages of slaughter-plant assessment are that the welfare issues in Steps 3 and 4 cannot be assessed easily.
Step 3
Provide animal housing that satisfies basic behavioral needs, such as being able to turn around and stand in a normal standing posture. Provide enrichments for highly motivated behavioral needs, such as a secluded nest box for laying hens, or rooting substrate or devices for pigs to chew. Train producers in good stockmanship skills that reduce an animal’s fear of humans and improve productivity (Hemsworth and Coleman, 2010). Methods to reduce pain during castration or dehoming should also be implemented. There are chapters in this book on pain mitigation after painful procedures, stockmanship, and behavioral needs.
Step 4
Since the first edition of this book, there has been a huge amount of research on providing environments that enable an animal to have truly positive emotions (Boissey et al., 2007; Rutherford et al., 2012). Some critics of the first edition stated that the book did not have enough emphasis on facilitating an animal’s positive emotions. Some new assessment tools for positive emotions are QBA (qualitative behavioral assessment) (Rutherford et al., 2012) and cognitive bias (Douglas et al., 2012). These assessments will be discussed in Chapters 2, 12, and 16, this volume. Scientific research clearly shovvs that animals have emotions (Morris et al., 2011; Panksepp, 2011). Some simple assessments of positive emotions are: animals have low fear and will approach people, play behavior, social grooming where animals lick each other, and willingness to approach a novel object.

Quick Access information 1.1. The most severe animal welfare problems caused by abuse, neglect, or bad management, that cause obvious suffering. These conditions must be corrected immediately.
Handling and transport - prohibited practices and conditionsa Welfare problems caused by poor housing, environmental conditions, nutrition, or neglected health problems Slaughter - prohibited practicesa
• Beating, throwing, or kicking animals.
• Poking out eyes or cutting tendons to restrain an animal.
• Dragging and dropping animals.
• Overloading trucks so tightly that a downed animal is trampled.
• Deliberately driving animals over the top of other animals.
• Poking animals in sensitive areas such as the eyes, anus, or mouth.
• Breaking tails or legs.
• Overloading, a draft animal and working it to exhaustion.
• Poking animals with pointed sticks.
• Conditions that cause animals to fall frequently or become injured or bruised during handling.
• Starvation or allowing animals to become severely dehydrated. Many animals that are skinny or have poor body condition. • High ammonia levels that cause eye or lung damage.
• Death or severe stress from extreme heat or cold.
• Large swellings or other injuries caused by either a lack of bedding or poorly designed housing.
• Dirty animals or birds covered with manure, with no dry place to lie down.
• Failure to treat obvious health problems.
• Nutritional problems that compromise the animal's health.
• Any condition that causes many animals to become lame (difficulty in walking).
• Saddle or harness sores on a working animal.
• Failure to euthanize animals with either severe injuries or disease that will not be able to recover.
•·Neglected health problems such as necrotic prolapses or advanced cancer eye.
• Scalding, skinning, leg removal or other carcass dressing procedures performed on sensible, conscious animals.
• lmmobilizing animals with an electrical current (Grandin et al., 1986; Pascoe, 1986), not to be confused with effective electrical stunning.
• Puntilla method or immobilizing animals before slaughter by severing the spinal cord which does, not cause instantaneous insensibility (Lirnon et al., 2010).
• Highly stressful methods of restraining conscious animals. One example is hoisting cattle by one leg.

a The items in the handling and transport, and slaughter columns would be in violation of OIE (2014 a,b) codes for slaughter and transport. The OIE standards for animal welfare are the most basic standards that everybody in both developed and developing countries should follow. To achieve a higher level of welfare will require some additional standards. Many countries have several additional standards. Disease control standards between different countries are easier to make uniform between countries than welfare standards, which have more complex ethical considerations.

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