Know the facts before deciding. Animal welfare

Animal welfare is an important concept. Many Europeans are concerned about the welfare of both farm and companion animals and it is an aspect in livestock farming that is often called into question. Views on animal welfare are very personal and the concept is much more complex than it seems at first sight. Ask 3 people what “animal welfare” means and you will most probably get 4 different answers – and this is perfectly understandable! This is why it is interesting to look at what science says about it.

So, it is still important to try to find a definition, relying on the scientific progress, which is the case for this evolved definition developed by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE):

“Animal welfare means how an animal is coping with the conditions in which it lives. An animal is in a good state of welfare if (as indicated by scientific evidence) it is healthy, comfortable, well nourished, safe, able to express innate behaviour, and if it is not suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, and distress. Good animal welfare requires disease prevention and veterinary treatment, appropriate shelter, management, nutrition, humane handling and humane slaughter/killing. Animal welfare refers to the state of the animal; the treatment that an animal receives is covered by other terms such as animal care, animal husbandry, and humane treatment.”

In debates about the welfare of animals, people tend to emphasize different concerns, in part because opinions about the appropriate course of action are rooted in human values. Some emphasize elements such as freedom from disease and injury. Others emphasize the experience of positive emotions and the avoidance of pain. Others again emphasize the ability of animals to live reasonably natural lives by carrying out behaviour similar to their ‘wild’ counterparts and having natural elements in their environment. These concerns make up different criteria that people use to assess animal welfare. 

The information published comes from the #meatthefacts campaign, a campaign that has been launched to publicize the information of the livestock and meat sector and which has the support of the

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