Why Do So Many Calves Die on Modern Dairy Farms and What Can We Do about Calf Welfare in the Future?Submitted on Jun 16, 2014 (Original item from 2013) Farmed Animals | General Animal Protection
Death of calves during or immediately following birth may be seen as a crucial indicator of poor farm management practices by consumers and animal advocates, while dairy farmers may regard it as a normal part of farming. Highest mortality is often focused in relatively few farms, but the reasons for this are unknown, as reporting is not standardized internationally, and after-death testing may not be performed. This article discusses common and suspected causes of calf mortality, and calls for better monitoring to research and address it.
This essay discusses the rise of factory farming and consumer concern about animal welfare in Europe. The authors point out that although a majority of EU consumers express concern about farmed animal living conditions, price is still the over-riding factor in purchase decisions. Credible documentation of superior animal living conditions is needed before consumers will pay more. However, the authors note that most of the profit margin on farmed animal products is taken by retailers and intermediaries, not farmers, so cost may not be the primary driver of pricing.
This marketing study used focus groups and surveys across Spain to identify why consumers prefer wild-caught fish to farmed fish. Consumers preferred wild fish on quality measures, but did not perceive a difference between the safety of wild and farmed fish, a change from previous research. They also perceived farmed fish as cheaper and more available. Environmental or animal welfare buying considerations were not included in the study.
In this conference abstract and slide presentation, the author explores the spectrum of sustainability concepts, and their relationship to animal protection. Placing ecologically-based sustainability at one end of the spectrum, and sustainable development at the other, the author defines key questions to differentiate when sustainability is and is not an animal-friendly concept. She also discusses the complex ethical bases of the environmental and animal protection movements, and critiques the increased impact on animals of "Green Economy" sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region.
People in six European countries were surveyed on whether sustainability labels on food products affected purchase decisions. Some demographic groups demonstrated greater concern or understanding about sustainability issues than others, but these differences did not translate into action. Respondents based buying decisions primarily on nutritional labeling and price, regardless of their level of concern about sustainability issues. However, high concern was more likely to translate into behavior in some countries than others, suggesting a focus for future research.
In this study, researchers tested whether hens could extrapolate from their own experience to perceive risk to their chicks, even when the chicks themselves perceived no threat. They conditioned hens to associate a particular box with startling puffs of air, and then measured their heart rate, comb and eye temperature, vocalization, and behavior when they saw chicks who had and had not received the same conditioning entered the box. They found that hens do respond when their chicks are in the proximity of risks known to the hens, but not the chicks. Hens respond even more intensely when the chicks are also aware of a threat.
This paper calls for more attention within the field of bioethics to animal death, and to the implications of related research for animal welfare. Animals' awareness of, and behavior in reaction to death, including death of humans and other animals, and anticipation of their own death is discussed. The author also cites research on animal emotions, empathy, social bonds, and grieving to argue that death is a psychological as well as a physical harm. In addition, she examines techniques and justifications for euthanasia, and questions whether a different term should be used for death administered to end animal suffering when the suffering was caused by experimentation.
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