Need for Livestock to Express Natural Behaviour

CANADA - A research scientist with the Prairie Swine Centre says there is a growing recognition of the need for livestock to be able exhibit natural behaviours, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 26 November 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

Adopting a swine well-being mindset was discussed this week as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2010.

Dr Harold Gonyou, a research scientist in animal behavior with the Saskatoon based Prairie Swine Centre, observes the general public is making its wishes known through ballot initiatives in the US where they're voting to have food animal production methods changed or restricted but industry is also recognizing the role of animal handling in terms not only of meat quality but that we have an obligation when we transport and market them to care for them well.

Dr Harold Gonyou-Prairie Swine Centre

I think most producers recognize that good productivity, longevity, good health, those are all indicators of good welfare on the animals.

But there's other aspects of animal welfare that are also important as well even though it may not affect the productivity of the animal, it's rate of injuries etcetera.

If animals are fearful then it affects their welfare, if animals experience pain then it affects their welfare so the concept that feelings also is part of welfare is an important thing.

We also see a growing sense that animals should have the ability to express their natural lives or some of their normal behaviors, the behaviors that they have normally used in order to cope with problems in their life, they should be able to still use those effectively within the systems that they're in.

Dr Gonyou says in the barn we see a greater emphasis on stockmanship and, within that, we have seen research that demonstrates it is not just the skill that people have but also their attitude toward how they care for animals, that what they do is important and we see our management groups also saying that welfare is going to be a priority on our farms.

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