- Studies by the Australian scientist Paul Hemsworth have shown that pigs that are fearful around their handlers will gain less weight and have lower reproductive rates. Animals have excellent memories for bad experiences. Pigs were most productive on farms where they had lots of contact with people. Fearful pigs which were slapped or hit had lower productivity. Dr. Hemsworth's research has shown that kindness makes a farm more profitable. People should enter animal pens every day and walk through. This trains the animals to tolerate people and it will reduce stress when the animals are transported.
- The welfare of breeding chickens and sows can be improved by adding roughages - such as straw - to their feed. This is especially important for breeding animals on a calorie restricted diet. Roughage makes the animals stomach feel full and provides foraging activity.
Category #1 : Abuse and Neglect
These are abuses that good livestock producers would not tolerate. They are animal cruelty abuses such as dragging downed crippled cattle, rough handling, throwing baby dairy calves, beating an animal, starving an animal, failing to provide shelter, or shackling and hoisting an animal prior to ritual slaughter. Almost all problems which occur during handling, transport and slaughter of livestock are Category #1 abuses. I estimate that over 75% of all livestock producers, transporters and slaughter plants do a good job of preventing these abuses. However, 10% allow Category #1 abuses to occur frequently and another 10% occasionally have problems with animal abuse. This is an area where the industry needs to clean up it's house and take action against the bad operators.
Category #2 : Boredom and Restrictive Environments
Whereas the animal welfare issues in Category #1 concern obvious animal abuses and cruelty, the issues in Category #2 do not involve pain. Category #2 welfare issues are animal boredom and abnormal behaviours which may occur in barren environments that do not provide adequate stimulation. Examples would be gestation stalls for sows, veal calf housing in individual stalls, and chickens in cages. In some cases boredom problems are easy to correct. Providing small handfuls of straw or toys to pigs will often prevent abnormal behaviour.
**This is an area where more research is needed.**
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