Colorado Stale University Fory Collins, Colorado, USA
Chapter 1 from Grandin, T. 2010. Improving Animal Welfare: A Practical Approach. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK. pp. 1-20.
There is a need for information on how to implement auditing programs and other strategies that will improve animal welfare. Many excellent books and articles are available that review scientific research on welfare, statistics that outline the extent of animal welfare problems, philosophical issues, animal rights and legislation. However, there is a huge need for information on how to effectively implement programs to improve animal welfare at the practical level. This is a hands-on ‘how to do it' guide that provides practical information for veterinarians, animal scientists, producers, transporters, auditors, government agencies, quality assurance managers and others who work in the field with animals. Too often legislation will he passed to ban some terrible practice but it still continues because little is done in the field to implement change.
ln this hook, the authors will help bridge the gap hetween scientific research and practical application. Recommendations on implementing animal welfare programs are based on over l0 years of the editors experience developing and implementing welfare auditing systems for major retailers and restaurants (Grandin, 2003, 2005). During rhe last 35 years the author has visited over 500 farms and slaughter plants in 25 different countries. The information in this hook will help the reader use the knowledge that can be obtained from many other sources in a more effective manner to bring about real changes that will improve the treatment of livestock, poultry and fish, on farms and transport vehicles and in slaughter plants. The principles of implementing an effective animal welfare program are the same for all species. Animal welfare is now a worldwide issue (Fraser, 2008a). The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) now has published animal welfare guidelines for slaughter of livestock and poultry and for the transport of livestock (Petrini and Wilson, 2005; OIE 2008, 2009a, b). The welfare of farmed fish is an emerging issue and the OIE will have guidelines for humane slaughter of fish (Hastein, 2007).
Large food retailers and restaurant chains are now requiring that their suppliers comply with their animal welfare standards. The economic incentive provided by these large buyers is a major force for improving animal welfare in both the developed and the developing world. Non-governmental (NGO) animal advocacy groups are also a major factor in developing animal welfare standards and legislation. When videos of animal abuses are seen around the world on the Internet, it makes people aware of the issue and they demand improvements.
Since animal welfare is now a global issue, this book contains information that can be used by people in both developed and developing parts of the world.
The author observed a big increase in lame slaughter weight pigs between 1995 and 2008. A major breeder of lean rapidly growing pigs did nothing about it in the USA until in some herds 50% of the slaughter weight pigs were clinically lame. They also had very poor leg conformation. This breeder was selecting for leanness, loin-eye size and rapid growth, and over a 10-year period did not notice that there were more and more lame pigs. The increase in lameness was mainly genetic because the pigs were all housed on the same concrete slats that had been used for years. A recent US study indicated that 21%,of the sows were lame (VanSickle, 2008). A study of sows in Minnesota indicated that risk of removal from the breeding herd increased when leg conformation was poor. Culling of breeding sows that was attributable to poor legs was 16.37% for the forelimbs and 12.90% for the hind limbs (Tiranti and Morrison, 2006). A study done in Spain showed that poor leg conformation was associated with higher sow calling rates (deSeville et al., 2008). Selecting breeding gilts with structurally correct feet and legs will provide better welfare and productivity.
|Fig. 1.1. Chart for scoring leg conformation in pigs. Plastic-laminated leg conformation charts should be used by producers when they select animals for breeding stock. Animals with poor leg conformation are more likely to become lame. The legs on the far left are normal and all the other legs are not normal. Other species such as cattle have similar leg and foot abnormalities.|
|Fig. 1.2. Dairy cow with a severe leg lesion that has a diameter greater than 7.4cm (size of a baseball). Photos like this should be put on laminated cards for scoring leg lesions on cows (photograph courtesy of Wendy Fulwider).|
Table l.1 shows the big differences between the best 20% of the farms and the worst 20%. The best 20% had 0% of the cows with swollen hocks and the worst 20% of the dairies had 7.4-12.5% of the cows had swollen hocks. In a Canadian study of 317 tie stall dairies, 26% of the dairies were well managed and cows had no open wounds on the hocks. However, 16% of the dairies were really bad and 15% or more of the cows had open hock wounds (Zurbrigg et al., 2005a, b). In another study of 53 dairy farms in the UK, the best 20% had 0-13.6% lame cows and the worst 20% had 34.9-54.4% lame (Wray et al., 2003). A panel of dairy veterinarians agreed that lameness and, swollen or ulcerated hocks were the most serious problems that needed to be corrected (Wray et al., 2003). It is likely that many of the dairy producers in the worst groups did not realize how bad they were compared to the other 80% of their colleagues. Research done in Ontario, Canada showed that 40% of the farms had 0% broken tails and the worst 20% had 5-50% of the cows with broken tails (OMAFRA, 2005).
|Percentage of cows on|
|Well-being issue||Best 20% of farms||Second best 20% of farms||Middle 20% of farms||Second worst 20% of farms||Worst 20% of farms|
|Hock hair loss only||0-10||10.6-20||20.8-35.8||36.2-54.4||56-96.1|
A huge survey conducted by Knowles et al., (2008) in the UK showed that 27.6% of the chickens were lame with a score of 3 or higher on a six- point scale. The scores ranged from normal to down and not able to walk. A score 3 bird is mobile, but obviously lame. There was a big difference between five different chicken companies and there was also a lot of variation between the best and the worst flocks. The best flock had 0% with a score of 3 or worse lame birds, and the worst flock had 83.7% obviously lame birds. The standard deviation for data collected on 176 flocks was 24.3% for score 3 lameness. A high standard deviation indicates that there were huge differences between the best and the worst farms. Unpublished industry data in the USA from chicken farms that are being audited by major customers had only 2% obviously lame 3 kg chickens.
Baseline data prior to the audits indicated that only 30% of the plants could stun 95% of the cattle with a single shot from a captive bolt. After the audits began and the plants became concerned about losing a major customer, the percentage of plants that could achieve this rose to over 90% (Fig, 1.3). Both audit and survey data indicated that a lack of maintenance of the captive bolt was a major cause of poor stunning.
|Fig. 1.3. Percentage of beef plants that stunned 95% or more cattle with the first shot. The baseline scores were measured in 1996 in ten US beef slaughter plants. After the restaurant audits started in 1999, the number of plants audited each year varied from 41 to 59. After the first 4 years of auditing, the scores further improved because the plants now had documented stunner maintenance programs and test stands that measure the bolt velocity of the stunner. The first year only 30% of the plants shot 95% of the cattle with a single shot. In 2007, 98% of the plants passed.|
Similar dramatic results were obtained with the reduction of electric-goad use. Usage of electric goads dropped from multiple shocks administered to every animal to more than 75% of the cattle and pigs moving through the entire plant with no shocks (Grandin, 2005). Studies done on South American ranches have shown that training handlers and improved procedures resulted in a huge reduction in cattle trampling on top of another animal and lost vaccine. Carefully restraining each animal one at a time in the head stanchion and squeeze was compared to vaccinating a long line of animals held in a race. Restraining each animal individually reduced trampling from 10 to 0% and lost vaccine dropped from 7 to 1% (Chiquitelli Nero et al., 2002; Paranhos de Costa, 2008).
Measurements every week or month make it easy to determine if handling practices are improving, staying the same or becoming slowly worse. Measurements on a regular basis of welfare-related issues such as lameness or leg lesions will enable farm managers to determine if their veterinary, bedding and husbandry programs are improving or becoming worse.
Measurements can also be used to determine if a new piece of equipment, a new procedure or a repair has made an improvement. Figure 1.4 illustrates that a simple modification such as adding a light at the entrance of a race made it possible to greatly reduce electric-prod use due to pigs baulking and refusing to enter the race. The addition of a lamp reduces baulking and fewer pigs had to be shocked. Pigs have a natural tendency to approach illuminated areas (Van Putten and Elshof, 1978; Grandin, 1982; Tanida et al., 1996). Measurement also makes it possible to locate producers who have animals that are difficult to handle. Figure 1.5 shows that some groups of pigs are more difficult to drive and there is increased electric-goad use and squealing. In Chapter 3 the measuring tools that can be used to assess welfare will be covered in more detail.
|Fig. 1.4. Electric-goad use on pigs was reduced from 38% of the pigs prodded to 4% prodded by adding lighting at the restrainer entrance. Simple changes such as placing a light at the entrance of a stunning race greatly reduced baulking and refusal to enter the race so less use of an electric goad was required. All handlers were well trained and only pigs that balked or backed up were prodded.|
|Fig. 1.5. Comparison of electric-goad use and squealing between easy-to-drive pigs and hard—to-drive pigs when moved by well-trained people who only used the electric goad on pigs that refused to move. Only 4% of the easy to drive pigs had to be moved with an electric prod, but the electric prod had to be used on 20% of the hard to drive pigs. Some pigs are more excitable and difficult to handle compared to other pigs. Measurement of each producers pigs can be used to locate problem pigs, which balk more and are more difficult to move through races. Squealing can be measured in small plants by counting the number of pigs that squeal. In large plants this is difficult, so the percentage of time the room was quiet was measured.|
In the next section, the author has categorized animal welfare issues in a series of tables that will make it easier for veterinarians and managers on farms and slaughter plants to implement improve- ments. The first two of Fraser’s guiding principles of maintaining the animal’s health and preventing pain and distress cover most ofthe worst problems, caused by either neglect or abusive treatment. The first two guiding principles outlined by David Fraser also cover four out of the five welfare freedoms in the Brambell Report and the OIE (2008) code. The OIE code (2008) states that the five freedoms are: 1. Freedom fromhunger, thirst and malnutrition. 2. Freedom from physical and thermal discomfort. 3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease. 4. Freedom to express normal behavior. 5. Freedom from fear and distress. The ability of an animal to express normal behavior is important, but in some parts of the world the first priority will be to correct obvious suffering that is caused by neglect, lack of knowledge or outright abuse.
Some animals that have been bred for rapid weight gain are difficult to transport and handle in a manner that ensures good welfare. Certain genetic lines of pigs that have been bred for rapid weight gain become easily fatigued and weak when grown to heavy weights of 130kg. The author has also observed healthy pigs that had been fed too much Paylean(c) (ractopamine) that were too weak to walk from one end of a lairage to the other. This is another example of bad conditions that some people perceived as normal. The author observed pigs 30 years ago that were strong enough to walk up long, steep ramps.
Healthy animals may also have abnormal behavior if they are housed in an environment that does not allow them to express normal social and species-specific behaviors. Some examples of abnormal behavior are pacing in a circle, bar biting in sows housed in gestation stalls, tail biting and pulling out feathers or hair. The behavioral needs of animals will be discussed in Chapters 8 and 15. There are also many excellent books on farm behavior and ethology that review research on behavioral needs (Broom and Fraser, 2007; Fraser, 2008b).
|Handling and transport prohibited practices and conditionsa||Welfare problems caused by poor housing, environmental conditions, nutrition or health problems||Slaughter — prohibited practices|
|Beating, throwing or kicking animals||Starvation or allowing animals to become severely dehydrated||Scalding, skinning, leg removal or other carcass dressing procedures performed on sensible, conscious animals|
|Poking out eyes or cutting tendons to restrain an animal||High ammonia levels that cause eye or lung damage||Immobilizing animals with an electrical current (Lambooy, 1985; Grandin etal., 1986; Pascoe, 1986), not to be confused with effective electrical stunning|
|Dragging and dropping animals||Death or severe stress from extreme heat or cold||Puntilla method of immobilizing animals before slaughter by severing the spinal cord, which does not cause instantaneous insensibility (Limon et al., 2008)|
|Overloading trucks so tightly that a downed animal is trampled||Large swellings or other injuries caused by either a lack of bedding or poorly designed housing||Highly stressful methods of restraining conscious animals. One example is hoisting cattle by one leg.|
|Deliberating driving animals over the top of other animals||Dirty animals covered with manure with no dry place to lie down|
|Poking animals in sensitive areas such as the eyes, anus or mouth||Failure to treat obvious health problems|
|Breaking tails or legs||Nutritional problems that compromise the animal's health|
|Overloading a draught animal and working it to exhaustion||Conditions that cause many animals to become lame|
|Poking animals with pointed sticks||Saddle or harness sores on a working animal|
|Conditions that cause animals tc frequently fall or become injured or bruised during handling|
|Beak trimming in poultry|
|Spaying female animals|
|Castrating male animals|
|Notching ears for identification|
|Removing tusks on bears|
|Clipping needle teeth on piglets|
|Docking dairy cow and pig tails|
|Mutilating and making big cuts in ears to identify animals|
|Mulesing sheep — cutting the skin on the rear end of a lamb to prevent flystrike|
|Wattling — cutting flaps of skin for identification|
|Hot iron branding|
|Lameness or leg abnormalities in rapidly growing pigs and poultry (Fernandez de Seville etal., 2008; Knowles etal., 2008)||Weak heavily rnuscled pigs due to either genetics or the use of beta-agonists such as ractopamine (Merchant-Forde ef al., 2003; Grandin 2007). These pigs may be reluctant to move|
|Increased aggression in some genetic lines of pigs or chickens (Craig and Muir, 1998)||Cracks and hoof lesions in pigs fed ractoparnine (Poletto et al., 2009)|
|Future problems with animals that have been genetically modified (OIE, 2006)||High appetite drive and frustration in breeding animals selected for high weight gain when they are fed a restricted diet to prevent obesity|
|Increased excitability in some genetic lines of lean pigs bred for rapid growth||Metabolic problems that may increase death losses in poultry (Parkdel etal., 2005)|
|High rates of calving problems in cattle bred for large muscle mass (Webster, 2005a, b)||Lameness in cattle due to excessive use of beta-agonists such as ractopamine or zilpaterol|
|Heat stress in cattle due to beta-agonists such as ractopamine (Grandin, 2007)||Increased bites from fighting in pigs caused by the beta-agonist ractopamine (Garner et al., 2008)|
|Health problems caused by rBST (growth hormone given to dairy cows to increase milk production) in dairy cows (WilIeberg 1993; Kronlield, 1994; Collier etal, 2001)||Lameness caused by poor leg conformation and over selection tor a narrow range ot production traits|
|Stress gene in pigs that causes porcine stress syndrome which increases death losses (Murray and Johnson, 1998)||Dairy cows that last only two lactations|
Table 1.3 shows behaviors that are associated with pain that are easy for people to score and quantify. The behaviors in Table 1.3 occur AFTER the procedure has been done in cattle, calves, pigs and lambs. Animals should be scored immediately after a procedure is done, for a minimum of l l h, to detect signs of acute pain. To detect signs of long—term pain, scoring can also be done over a period of days. These behaviors are associated with physiological measures of pain and stress (Molony and Kent, 1997; Eicher and Dailey, 2002; Sylvester et al., 2004; Stafford and Mellor, 2005b; Vihuela-Fernandez et al., 2007). The behaviors associated with different painful surgeries will vary depending on the procedure and the species. Quantifying pain-related behavior provides an easy economical way to evaluate welfare in large numbers of animals. Animals often conceal pain—related behavior when they see a person watching. To accurately assess the occurrence of pain-related behaviors, either the observer must he hidden from the animal’s view or a remote video camera should be used.
|Behaviors associated with pain||Speciesa|
|Time in contorted abnormal lateral or ventral recumbancy||Lambs, calves, cattle|
|Time in lateral recumbancy||Lambs, calves, cattle|
|Number of times foot stamped||Lambs, calves, cattle|
|Number of kicks||Lambs|
|Number of lip curls||Lambs|
|Number of ear flicks||Calves, cattle|
|Number of tail switches (wags)||Cattle, calves|
|Time standing still like a statue||Cattle, calves|
|Time walking (restless)||Cattle, calves|
|Time lying down in all positions||All species|
In another study, 98% of the cattle that vocalized during handling and stunning at a slaughter plant had been subjected to an obvious aversive event such as being poked with an electric goad, ineffective stuns or excessive pressure from a restraint device (Grandin, 1998b). Vocalization scoring works well for showing how improvements in equipment and handling procedures will lower the vocalization score (Grandin, 2001). Table 1.4 shows some data where the variable of restraining the animal in the squeeze chute was separated from the variable of the stressful procedure. lt also shows how a less severe electro-ejaculation method reduced the number of vocalizations in Angus beef cattle.
Vocalization scoring should be done DURING procedures such as branding, castration, weaning, restraint or handling. Vocalization during painful or stressful procedures is correlated with physio- logical measures of stress (Dunn, 1990; Warriss ct nl., 1994; White er al., 1995). The neuropeptide substance P is involved in pain perception. It was higher in calves with more vocalization during cas- tration (Coitzee et nl., 2008). Vocalization must not be used in sheep for scor- ing reactions to painful procedures or the stress of being restrained or handled. Cattle and pigs will vocalize when they are hurt or frightened, but sheep will usually remain silent.
Sheep are the ultimate defenseless prey species. They evolved to remain silent when they are hurt so they do not advertise their vulnerability to predators. However, lambs will vocalize loudly when they are separated from the mother at weaning. This is the only time that distressed sheep will vocalize. Vocalization scoring cannot be used if an animal is immobilized with electricity. Immobilization prevents vocalization. These devices are highly stressful and should not be used (see Chapter 5).
|Controls restraint in a squeeze chute with a stanchion headgate||High voltage electro-ejaculation machine||Low voltage electro-ejaculation machine|
|Average number of vocalizations per bulla||0.15 ± 0.1||8.9 ± 1.1b||3.9 ± 1.0 b|
Research shows that fish respond to painful stimuli in a manner that is not just a simple reflex. The most convincing evidence that fish feel pain comes from the studies by Sneddon (2003), Sneddon et al. (2003a, b), and Reilly et al. (2008). Acetic acid was injected into the lips of fish to create a painful stimulus. Some of the fish engaged in weird rocking back and forth and rubbing the injected lip against the tank walls. Some individuals exhibited the behavior and others did not. It is common in pain studies in all species to have big differences in the reaction between different individuals. There were also species differences in the occurrence of this behavior. Zebra fish did not do it (Reilly et al., 2008). A study by Dunlap et al. (2005) showed that fish can be fear conditioned and that their reactions are affected in a complex manner by the presence of other fish. There is also evidence that fish react to handling stress with increases in cortisol. This would he similar to the increase in cortisol after stressful handling in mammals. The final experiment that needs to be done to verify that finned fish suffer from pain is the self-medication experiment that has clearly shown that rats and chickens will self-medicare for pain (Danbury et al., 2000; Colpaert et al., 2001).
From a practical standpoint, this research indicates that equipment such as a stunner should be used to render farmed fish insensible at the slaughter plant. Some of the behavioral indicators of distress that could be easily quantified on a fish farm are loss of equilibrium (fish is belly up), high respiration rate and agitated swimming (Newby and Stevens, 2008). Other researchers scored fish for fast-swimming escape responses and a tail-flip behavior called the Mauthner-initiated startle response (Eaton et al., 1977). Fish is one area where more research will be needed to develop simple on-farm assessments. There are significant species differences in a fish's reaction to stress. Specific behavioral assessments will have to be developed for each species of farmed fish.
Motivation can be measured in a very objective manner. Some of the methods that can be used to measure the strength of an animal’s motivation to perform natural behaviors are: (i) the amount of time an animal is willing to go without feed so it can perform a behavior; (ii) the number of times it will push a switch to get to something it wants; and (iii) weighted doors that become increasingly heavy (Widowski and Duncan, 2000; see Chapter 15).
Scientific research clearly shows that to give an animal a high level of welfare, the most highly motivated behaviors should be accommodated (O’Hara and O`Connor, 2007). Behavioral needs are important, but in places where conditions are really poor, the very serious animal welfare problems listed in Table 1.2 should be corrected first. Box 1.3 lists the most important behavioral needs.
|Roughage feed for ruminant animals and equines|
|Animals should have sufficient space to be able to turn around, stand up and lie down in natural positions|
|Secluded nest boxes for poultry|
|Perches for poultry|
|Straw or other fibrous materials for pigs to root and chew on|
|Repetitive stereotyped behavior in a barren cage or pen is an indicator of a poor environment that does not satisfy behavioral needs. Environmental enrichment should be provided to prevent abnormal repetitive behavior (see Chapter 8)|
|Opportunities for social interaction with other animals|
|An environment that helps prevent damaging abnormal behavior such as feather pecking, wool pulling or tail biting (damage on animals can be easily quantified and measured)|
Science can provide information to help people make good decisions about animal welfare. However, there are some ethical concerns that science cannot answer (see Chapter 2). To help make good decisions, many governments and large meat buyers have animal welfare advisory councils. The author has served on these councils for livestock industry associations, major retailers and restaurant chains. Most councils consist of scientific researchers in the field of welfare, animal advocacy groups and lay people. They provide advice and guidance. In Europe, advisory councils make recommendations on legislation. In the UK, the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) has been advising the government for many years. Another example is the Council on Animal Ethics at the National Veterinary Institute in Norway. It has both expert and lay members (Mejdell, 2006).
From an ethical standpoint, interpretation of physiological measures such as cortisol levels or heart rate is more difficult. What level of cortisol should be permitted? The most practical way to help people make ethical decisions about physiological measurements is to compare the stressful or painful treatment to a control condition that IIIOSY people find acceptable such as restraining the ani- mal. lr is best to evaluate physiological data by comparing them to a control condition within the same study with the same type of animals.
There are extreme levels of physiological measures that most scientific experts on an advisory council would be able to say "This is absolutely not acceptable," for example, extremely high average levels of cortisol such as the 93 ng/ml average level reported by Dunn (1990) in cattle. The level is 30 units higher than cortisol levels due to poor handling. It is important to use the AVERAGE level of a physiological measure in a group of animals. Individual animals can have great variation in stress levels. More information on assessing stress has been reviewed in Grandin (1997). Another example of conditions that are absolutely not acceptable is the capture myopathy cases that are described in Chapter 5.
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