Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science Supplement
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/10/2003
Publication Date: 1/10/2003
Citation: LAY JR, D.C. SWINE PRODUCTION SYSTEMS: ANIMAL WELFARE CONSIDERATIONS. JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE SUPPLEMENT. 2003. V. 86(SUPPL.1): ABSTRACT P. 1.
Technical Abstract: A general public perception is that it is easy to visualize when an animals welfare is adequate. Scientifically, this determination is quite difficult. The difficulty resides in our ability to objectively assess the animals physical and psychological state; as well as to determine the difference between a want and a need. Questions about animal welfare need to be addressed based on individual needs of animals. While productivity and economics can be measured at the group level, animal welfare must be measured at an individual level. Needs are both species and individually specific -dependent on age, sex, temperament, previous experience; characteristics that are lost at the group level. Science has provided a great deal of information that is useful in assessing the physical needs of swine. In contrast, information is lacking on required needs related to social requirements, motivational states, activities -both level and specific activity, as well as psychological needs. To critically address the question of animal welfare, specific questions need to be answered addressing all of the factors mentioned above. Unacceptable welfare in one factor translates to unacceptable welfare for the individual. Our challenge is to be able to define the point at which good welfare turns to poor welfare. However, like feelings of pain, hunger, cold, and thirst; welfare should be viewed on a continuum in which positive welfare becomes less positive and then worsens, or vice versa. Swine production systems should be evaluated as to whether the animals are free from pain, free from distress, free from fear, and as to whether the animals are both physically and psychologically fit.