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Animal Welfare
Animal welfare in a world concerned with food security

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The challenges of maintaining high standards of animal welfare in a world facing increased demand for food production were discussed at a recent symposium in London. Arianwen Morris reports.

THE symposium was held by CABI, a not-for-profit international organisation that aims to improve people's lives by providing scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment, to mark its 100th anniversary. It took place at the RVC – London on June 24.

The keynote speech was delivered by Temple Grandin of Colorado State University, who described how seeing things from an animal's perspective could greatly improve animals' compliance during handling, thereby reducing stress and associated welfare problems.

While good equipment made good handling possible, she said ‘The other half of the equation is management.’

She explained that she would rather have adequate equipment with the very best management than the very best state-of-the-art equipment but with poor management.

One of the most basic principles when handling livestock was to avoid shouting at the animals. ‘A calm animal is easier to handle,’ she said. ‘Don't get it all scared and excited.’

Once an animal was fearful, it would take about half an hour to calm down; therefore, any measures that could be put in place to avoid startling the animals would be beneficial. Based on her experience of cattle production in the USA, she noted that many of these were not very costly.

Installing non-slip flooring was one such measure. ‘Working with slaughter plants, when I start out with a new plant, the first thing I've got to do is put steel rods welded on the floor so they don't slip,’ she said.

A vehicle driving by could startle an animal, and contrasts between light and dark caused by shadows, or between different types of flooring material, would make them …

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