Positive of the benefits of animal welfare?
Positive farm animal welfare is a relatively new idea which brings attention to animals having a good life. Positive farm animal welfare is in sympathy with public opinion and is supported by science, but to become more central to animal farming it must also benefit producers and consumers of animal products.
A new piece of SRUC research highlights connections between the emotion of animals and their welfare.
In a new research briefing from SRUC’s Rural Policy Centre, Professor Alistair Lawrence says that, with the benefit of further study, positive animal welfare could one day offer multiple benefits for farm animals, farmers and for the consumer.
Working alongside the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute in research funded by the Scottish Government, SRUC scientists are investigating the links between animals ‘feeling well’ and ‘being healthy’. Successfully demonstrating this relationship would, says Prof Lawrence, help illustrate that positive animal welfare is of benefit to animals as well as people. An example of this is research led by Prof Lawrence which found that litters of pigs that play the most also grow the fastest, suggesting that what benefits animals can also benefit farmers and, ultimately, consumers.
Prof Lawrence, Chair of SRUC’s Animal Behaviour and Welfare team, says there is now broad consensus that animals can have positive as well as negative experiences. He added: “Promoting positive welfare in animals is perhaps rather similar to promoting mental wellbeing in ourselves. It is a slightly different way of thinking about things but the benefits could be significant.”
The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) was first to point to the policy implications of positive animal welfare, framing the idea of animals having a ‘good life’ within a broader vision of continuing to improve farm animal welfare standards.
Read Prof Lawrence’s research briefing here.
Take a look at Animal Science and related courses at SRUC by visiting our subject area page.