The Saputo Dairy Care Program and the The Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare invite you to a special summer lecture by Dr. George Stilwell, Animal Behaviour and Welfare Research Lab, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Animal Health, Veterinary Medicine Faculty, Lisbon University:
Animal welfare and profitable farming
Thursday, August 3rd,
2:30-3:30pm, PAHL 1812
A new type of intensive animal production is developing, increasingly relying on better genetics, nutrition, husbandry and use of technology. For example, in 1940 it would take a chicken 12 weeks to reach 1.8 kg body weight, while nowadays a broiler will only take five weeks. In 1940 one farmer would feed approximately 19 people while nowadays the same farmer feeds 155 persons.
However, the intensification of animal production, characterized by confined production systems and concentration of production in fewer large units, has changed how society perceives this activity, generating a set of actions to ensure farm animal welfare. All these changes have brought about new welfare challenges and a more concerned view from society towards animal production. Sustainability, animal welfare and environmental concerns have increased consumers' interest in knowing how, where and by whom food is produced and handled from "farm to fork."
Accepted definitions of animal welfare are based on a multidimensional concept, defined as a state of complete mental and physical health where the animal is in harmony with its environment. As David Fraser wrote, there are three reasons behind this increasing worry for animal welfare during the last 50 years:
1) the change to a less humane way of confining animals;
2) a prevailing urban population that sees animals as sentient beings rather than as instruments and a media that constantly "humanizes" animals and shows some terrible conditions in which animals are kept;
3) a reaction to all "non-natural" conditions that could put food safety at risk. As John
Webster says in his book "Limping towards Eden": "...wealth (...) allowed us to behave towards (animals) with responsibility and altruism".
Meanwhile other factors have to be added to the equation, influencing the future of farming:
- Previsions by FAO and other organizations have shown that the world population is growing and asking more from agriculture. For example, FAO predicts that in 2050 there will be an increase in meat production of over 200 million tonnes to a total of 470 million tonnes.
- Concern is growing on the impact of agriculture on the environment (e.g. soil and water usage and pollution, green-house gas, deforestation...).
- Consumers are intransigent with food safety and will increasingly seek naturally/organic produced food.
In summary, consumers demand safe, natural, high quality, animal and environment friendly food at any cost... but only if at a low cost. But is this feasible?
I aim to demonstrate in my talk that it is possible to increase animal performance while ensuring its welfare. In other words, three intertwined reasons should back the promotion of farm animal welfare by humans: ethical, health but also economic reasons.
News & Announcements
- Assistant/Associate Professor: Computational Biology Position Available
- Tina Widowski awarded the OAC Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Award for Extension
- Congratulations to Dr. Grégoy Bédécarrats for Receiving the 2017 Novus Outstanding Teaching Award!
- Studying animals (on an individual scale) with biosensors
- Graduate Seminar at Vern Osborne's Farm July 21, 2017
- Jean Szkotnicki Inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame
- 2017 ASAS-CSAS Graduate Student Poster Presentation Winner is Youngji Rho!
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