OneWelfare: animal welfare in a broader context
Animal welfare is not just a matter of raising animals in a friendly way. There’s a much broader context. Human wellbeing, consumer demands on animal welfare and the impact on the environment are important parameters as well. Professor Dr. Ir. Bas Rodenburg has a clear vision on how to balance between these issues. Monitoring animal behavior plays a key role.
By Ad Bal
In early April this year, Prof. Bas Rodenburg gave his inaugural lecture as Professor in Animal Welfare at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Utrecht University in The Netherlands. Focus of his work there, is to investigate animal behavior in relation to their living environment.
“Livestock farming, particularly in The Netherlands but also in other parts of the world, is gradually moving into a more circular and sustainable direction”, says Rodenburg. “Moreover, animal welfare is ranking highly on the agenda of the public (consumer), hence setting higher standards. And of course, producing protein from animal origin, is putting a substantial impact on the environment. This leads to more complex animal husbandry systems, in which the animals are often kept in large groups. As a result, all this will demand more from the adaptive properties of the animals.
This is a complex future model of keeping livestock, in which animal welfare is playing a key role. After all, an animal which is feeling well, will be strong and less susceptible to disease. As a result, it will be a productive animal.“
“However, in order to be able to improve adaptive capacity and animal welfare, we first must be able to measure these. Animal behavior plays a key role there as we gain a lot of information by monitoring animal behavior and preferences,’ Rodenburg continues.
“Moreover, as animals are to an increased extent kept in social groups, we must understand how they behave amongst each other. And which social preferences they have.
In the past, various measures were taken to prevent animals from damaging behavior. Think of tail docking in pigs, beak trimming in laying hens, dehorning in calves and...
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