Effects of Disease on Farm Animal Welfare
Effects of Disease on Farm Animal Welfare.
There is now a considerable body of scientific evidence that farm animals are sentient and can suffer and therefore the effects of disease on mental well-being, e.g. fear, distress, anxiety, do affect their welfare.
This article seeks to highlight the potential to reduce individual animal suffering.
- Infectious diseases are caused by pathogens that might be viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, endoparasites or ectoparasites. They spread directly from animal to animal or indirectly via the environment or contaminated equipment or carriers, such as birds or insects.
- Non-infectious health problems include injuries such as fractures, abrasions or swellings; tumors and non-malignant growths (e.g. warts), which may or may not cause pain depending on their location on the animal, size, potential for necrosis and secondary infection; lameness due to e.g. bone abnormalities, fractures, joint disease such as osteoarthritis and hoof horn injuries; dental problems inhibiting eating
- Good physical health is essential to good welfare, but is not sufficient in itself because it does not necessarily lead to a good mental state. Conversely, poor productivity, e.g. infertility, may be indicative of an underlying disease but may not always be a cause of suffering.
THE INTERACTIONS BETWEEN MENTAL AND PHYSICAL WELL-BEING AND DISEASE
- Diseased animals suffer from impaired welfare because of the direct physical (fever, inflammation, respiratory distress) and psychological effects of the disease, (pain, anxiety or fear). There may also be abnormalities that are undetectable such as headache or depression.
- Indirect effects of disease may include reduced physical ability to access feed, water or other resources and reduced motivation to express normal behaviours such as play. There may also be indirect effects of a disease on other animals in a group, such as an inability to suckle.
- An animal that is unable to exhibit motivated behaviours, e.g. suckling or rooting or has a physiological need, e.g. hunger, may develop inappropriate behaviours in an attempt to regain homeostasis.
- There have been many attempts to define animal welfare. In our view, welfare encompasses both physical and mental health, and for farm animals is largely determined by the skills of the stock people, the system of husbandry and the suitability of the genotype for the environment.
In considering what provisions should be made for farm animals to avoid unnecessary suffering and to promote good welfare, the Committee(Farm Animal Welfare Committee) is guided by the Five Freedoms:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst, by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.
- Freedom from discomfort, by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
- Freedom from pain, injury and disease, by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
- Freedom to express normal behavior, by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal‘s own kind.
- Freedom from fear and distress, by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
Written by:- Dr. Musa MANSUR AHMADShare