Animal Studies Bibliography

Fox, M. W. 1981. Farm animal welfare: Some opinions. International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems 2(2): 80-86.

The Institute for the Study of Animal Problems conducted a small survey of vets and animal scientists involved in livestock production in the US on their feelings about current industry practices with regard to poultry, pigs, and cattle. Almost half did not feel qualified to answer about practices involving poultry, and respondents showed the most concern over the welfare of cattle. Views were mixed in all three areas, with some respondents expressing concern and others believing all the practices were acceptable or even that modern husbandry methods benefit the animals. In general, respondents identified some issues as acceptable (e.g. debeaking chickens, castration, tail docking, and tusk snipping of pigs, and stall tying of dairy replacement calves and castration without anesthetic of cattle), others as needing further research (e.g. cannibalism and ventilation for chickens, and floor surface and lameness or overcrowding for pigs), and a few as of concern and needing change or regulation (e.g. battery cages and overcrowding for chickens, transportation and floor surface for pigs, and dehorning with anesthetics and transporting disabled animals for cattle). Concern was also expressed over small producers of pigs, places which are harder to observe and regulate and generally include poorer conditions. A general theme in the responses was that animal welfare was tied to the producer's profits, and therefore what the producer did to maximize productivity would necessarily benefit the animals. In fact, however, because of the economies of scale at work at factory farms, the maximum potential need not be produced from each individual animal, just from the operation as a whole, and as a result, profits and animal welfare are not necessarily connected. Mechanization of husbandry tasks were expected to increase farmers' time with their animals, but instead farmers bought more animals in order to increase profits, and the result has been less attention for each animals and an increasing requirement for the animal to conform to mechanized processes and timetables. The fact that there is not yet research that proves the animals' discontent or pain is no reason not to attempt to help them, and ethical guidelines should be created to regulate husbandry. Animals' needs must be weighed against human's uses of them and whether these human needs can be met in some other way. There are 7 basics that animals must be assured of: freedom to perform natural physical movement; association, where appropriate, with other animals of their own kind; facilities for comfort-activities, e.g. rest, sleep, and body care; provision of food and water to maintain full health; ability to perform daily routines of natural activities; opportunity for the activities of exploration and play, especially for young animals; satisfaction of minimal spatial and territorial requirements including a visual field (85). Researchers must work together internationally to determine how to evaluate farm animal welfare and to devise guidelines to protect both animal welfare and producer needs.


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