Animal welfare: what exactly is this?

Animal Welfare : What exactly is this?

Animal welfare lacks a precise definition and a satisfactory distinction from “well-being”. Animal welfare can thus be defined as the ability of an animal to interact comfortably with its environment, culminating in satisfaction of its physical and mental states. This satisfaction triggers expression of normal behavior patterns by the animal.

animal welfare
Animal welfare

Precisely, animal “well-being” refers to the current state of the animal, but animal welfare is a more general term denoting the past, present and future implications of the animal’s state.

Animal welfare is therefore at the heart of any good farming business. According to the most accepted definition – in fact an operational definition. “Welfare of an individual is its physiological and psychological state regarding its attempts to cope with its environment”.
Animal welfare denotes that of a good quality of life as a result of harmonization of the different welfare aspects such as mental well-being, natural behavior and physical well-being.

Animal welfare is
comprised physiological and mental health and is influenced by several external and internal factors. The welfare of animals can be addressed by posing three fundamental questions: is the animal functioning well, is the animal feeling well and is the animal able to live according to its normal behavior

The assessment of animal welfare is based on the provisions of the five animal freedoms as listed below:

Freedom from hunger and thirst by provision of ready access to fresh water and a well constituted diet to maintain full health and vigor.

Freedom from thermal or physical discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area. This protects your animals from strong sunlight and winds as well as rain and cold.

Freedom from pain, injury and disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Freedom to express normal behavior patterns by providing sufficient space, proper physical facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.

Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

We are ethically obliged to ensure a good state of welfare for animals in our care. In some cases, this will clearly be associated with a cost.

Good welfare has many benefits such as: Increased milk and eggs production, fast growth rate, reduction in production diseases and improved longevity, increased consumer confidence in livestock products and Prevention of diseases in both humans and animals (zoonosis).

The major indicators of poor welfare are many and varied and include: Behavior changes and disorders (these form the first line of defense in situations of disease or stress), Lameness disorders and injury, Reproductive and metabolic disorders and Behavioral disorders.

To maintain an optimal level of welfare, an animal most at times attempts to cope with its immediate environment by adapting according to the prevailing circumstances. Failure to uphold good animal welfare practices leads to poor animal welfare.

The Animal Welfare Act 1999 sets out how people should take care of and act towards animals. The Act sets out the obligations of animal owners or people in charge of animals.

Recently, public scrutiny of production practices in animal agriculture has been on the rise globally.

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