Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare
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Keeping American agriculture competitive and ending world hunger will likely require intensive food animal production. Intensive rearing of animalsfor human food can present significant animal welfare challenges. Therefore, it is crucial that scientific understanding andknowledge of animal welfare be available to the agricultural industry.Animal welfare is an important issue for consumer confidence in animal production. Surveys taken during the past 15 yearsindicate strong public concern that farm animals have good welfare, or a good life. For example, 95% of respondents to anationwide survey conducted by Oklahoma State University agreed with the statement, It is important to me that animals onfarms are well cared for (2007). In another study (Ohio State University, 2005), 92% of respondents to a survey in Ohio agreedor strongly agreed that it is important that farm animals are well-cared for, and 85% agreed or strongly agreed that even thoughsome farm animals are used for meat, the quality of their lives is important. In addition, 81% of respondents agreed or stronglyagreed that the welfare of farm animals is just as important as the welfare of pets, and 75% agreed or strongly agreed that farmanimals should be protected from feeling physical pain. A recent European poll indicated that consumers in the 29 countriessurveyed are very concerned about the welfare of animals (Eurobarometer, 2007).A system that results in poor animal welfare is unsustainable because it is unacceptable to many people. The quality of animalproducts is being judged in relation to the ethics of production, including impact on the animal's welfare. Customers andconsumers are demanding major changes in food animal housing systems, in particular gestation stalls for the breeding sow,conventional cages for the laying hen and stalls for veal calves. These changes have begun to be implemented througheducation, assessment/certification schemes, third party auditing and legislation.Animal welfare can also impact world trade as evidenced by the recent establishment of global animal welfare standards ontransport and slaughter by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The OIE continues the development of standardsand recommendations in new areas of importance to animal welfare. In 2009-2010 the OIE has formed an adhoc group onlaboratory animal welfare and two ad hoc groups on animal welfare and livestock production systemsThrough this multistate project (currently NC-1029), we have established a national scientific committee to generate anddisseminate objective scientific information on animal welfare issues. This committee is comprised of approximately 20scientists working in multiple disciplines at different locations throughout North America. Our research is critical to provide thescience and technology to help producers and those involved in animal production maintain their freedom to operate aspotential trade barriers are implemented.The long-term objective of the multistate project is to optimize animal welfare while maintaining animal productivity.