Cattle welfare consensus of ethics, science

Published on: Jul 20, 2013

AVMA Convention: Cattle welfare consensus of ethics, science, economics Animal welfare is much like health: people can make a decision on if welfare is compromised, if that compromise is mild or severe and what should be done about it, according to Dr. James Reynolds of the Western University College of Veterinary Medicine during a presentation July 20 at the annual convention of the American Veterinary Medical Assn. (AVMA).

Speaking on hot topics in bovine welfare, Reynolds said ethics determines what is acceptable and ethics changes over time, which causes friction. Welfare, therefore, is a consensus of ethics, science, opinion and economics; "we can separate each out but they all merge together," he said.

Among the hot topics Reynolds discussed were painful procedures such as a branding, dehorning calves and tail docking of dairy cattle. He stressed that if veterinarians need to cause pain to do a procedure, pain management must be provided. If that procedure is not needed, then the animal should be left alone.

Other cattle hot topics Reynolds discussed was heat stress/cooling (particularly for feedlot cattle), lameness (particularly caused by problems with older or poorly designed physical facilities), non-ambulatory cattle (which has become less of a problem since the implementation of bovine spongiform encephalopathy control efforts, though it can still be an issue), proper euthanasia techniques and "ag gag" laws.

Reynolds pointed out that he sees the "See it, Fix it" aspect of the dairy industry's FARM Program will become mandatory.