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- PublicationSheep are sentient, but not identical(Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy (HSISP), 2019-07-04)Marino & Merskin (M&M) provide a timely reminder that sheep have advanced cognitive abilities, but do we still have to provide evidence to justify animal sentience? In the EU, regulations are designed to support farm animal welfare. Whilst the regulations are imperfect, they do emphasize behavioural needs and other concepts relevant to sentience. The persistence of sheep welfare issues such as lamb mortality indicates that regulations may not be achieving their desired goal. We can quibble about the science described by M&M yet reach the same conclusion: sheep (lambs, ewes and rams) are not all identical, but they are all sentient.
- PublicationChallenges and Solutions to Supporting Farm Animal Welfare in Ireland: Responding to the Human ElementOver recent decades, changes in agriculture have pushed animal welfare as a topic of concern into mainstream public, policy and political conversations (Buller and Morris, 2003; Fraser, 2014; Broom, 2016). Despite the relationship between farmers and farm animals being important for farm animal welfare standards, there is limited understanding of how the nature of this relationship influences welfare outcomes. Understanding the complexities of this relationship and the wider context in which these complexities are situated is central to forming and implementing interventions that can be effective in improving farm animal welfare on individual farms.
- PublicationAn evaluation of four private animal health and welfare standards and associated quality assurance programmes for dairy cow productionPrivate standards in animal health and welfare (AHW) and associated quality assurance (QA) programmes are an important instrument for food policy with the potential to substantially improve AHW. However, there are concerns that they do not necessarily do so. In this study, we evaluated four private AHW standards and associated QA programmes for dairy cow production, from Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, using an existing (but adapted) conceptual framework. The framework considers criteria relating to programme goals including relevance to AHW, programme beneficiaries, effectiveness, efficiency and transparency. The current study focused on information that was publicly available online. We found limited objective information to support programme claims, although there were considerable differences between programmes. Across all programmes, problems were identified with respect to transparency, and attempts to scrutinise claims would not be a straightforward process for most consumers. Among the programmes, there were notable examples of best-practice in AHW, relating to science-based evidence, separation of risk assessment and risk management, animal-based measures, farm benchmarking, ongoing programme-level metrics and measurement, and ongoing programme review. There is a need for careful scrutiny of private standards and QA programmes, to provide consumers with assurance with respect to programme effectiveness and transparency. Further, it is important that programme efficiencies are maximised. There is a strong case for regulatory oversight of private standards in AHW and associated QA programmes. This could be within existing or defined policy instruments, both to facilitate the positive impact of these programmes and to build confidence among consumers of the validity of programme claims.
14Scopus© Citations 4
- PublicationApplying Haddon’s matrix to bovine injury prevention: An example using white line diseaseHaddon’s matrix is a model used to conceptualize injury occurrence. This model defines injury as energy transfer, by the agent to the host, in quantities or rates exceeding the tolerance of the host’s tissue. While this approach has been used in human injury research for over 30 years to identify risk factors and develop preventive interventions, we have not seen it applied to animal injury. Lameness, an etiologically complex condition, is a source of both economic losses and welfare concerns to the cattle industry. We introduce Haddon’s matrix as an approach to viewing traumatic animal injury using bovine white line disease as an example.
- PublicationDilemmas experienced by government veterinarians when responding professionally to farm animal welfare incidents in IrelandObjectives: This paper identifies the dilemmas experienced by government veterinarians during their investigations of farm animal welfare incidents that involve herd owner social, health, and/or psychological difficulties. The paper builds on exploratory qualitative research into the impact of these difficulties on farm animal welfare.Design: The study used a qualitative research approach. Focus groups were conducted.Setting: In Ireland, an Early Warning System (EWS), which brings together relevant agencies, is in place to identify and prevent farm animal welfare problems before they become critical. This study is concerned with the experiences of government veterinarians who respond to farm animal welfare incidents. Specific focus is on incidents that involve herd owner social/ psychological/health-related difficulties.Participants: In total, n=18 government veterinarians (representing 15 per cent of the population sample), all with a keen interest in farm animal welfare, participated. These were selected on the basis of their interest, experience, and involvement in farm animal welfare. One government veterinarian declined to participate. Four focus groups were conducted with government veterinarians. These took place in the south (S), south-west (SW), midlands (M), and north-west region of Ireland (NW). All 16 District Veterinary Offices (DVOs) were represented in the focus groups.Results: The results reveal three professional dilemmas that exist for government veterinarians: (1) defining professional parameters; (2) determining the appropriate response; (3) involvement versus detachment. Participants reported not wanting any additional training. Instead, it was agreed that a formal bridge to social service providers who have the professional capability to respond appropriately and with confidence, was required.Conclusions: Clearly defined guidelines are required for government veterinarians in their encounters with farm animal welfare incidents where there is a complex human component. A coordinated multiagency approach that is flexible enough to meet the needs of individual farm animal welfare cases is required.
- PublicationAspects of the owning/keeping and disposal of horses, and how these relate to equine health/welfare in IrelandBackground: Ireland has long been renowned as a major centre for the breeding, rearing and keeping of horses. Since 2007, however, there has been increasing concern for horse health and welfare standards, and links between these concerns and the structures, governance and funding of the Irish equine industries have been reported. This paper addresses two central issues: firstly the local governance of, trade in and disposal of unwanted horses; and secondly mechanisms employed to improve standards of care given to horses owned by certain communities. Method: Primary information was gathered through visits to horse pounds run by and on behalf of Local Authorities, to social horse projects, to horse dealer yards, ferry ports, horse slaughter plants and knackeries. Results: The approach adopted by members of a given group, e.g. ferry ports, is described and differences are highlighted, for example in how different Local Authorities implement the Control of Horses Act of 1986, and how the choice, for example, of disposal route affects the standard of animal welfare. Conclusions: There is a pressing need for a more centrally mandated and uniformly applied system of governance to safeguard the health and promote the keeping of horses to a higher welfare standard in Ireland. Fundamental to an understanding of why there is insufficient oversight of the keeping and proper disposal of horses is the lack of a comprehensive, integrated system for the registration, identification and tracing of equidae in Ireland.
456Scopus© Citations 3
- PublicationThe structure and regulation of the Irish equine industries: Links to considerations of equine welfareThe equine industries in Ireland are vibrant and growing. They are broadly classified into two sectors: Thoroughbred racing, and sports and leisure. This paper describes these sectors in terms of governance, education and training in equine welfare, and available data concerning horse numbers, identification, traceability and disposal. Animal welfare, and specifically equine welfare, has received increasing attention internationally. There is general acceptance of concepts such as animal needs and persons' responsibilities toward animals in their care, as expressed in the 'Five Freedoms'. As yet, little has been published on standards of equine welfare pertaining to Ireland, or on measures to address welfare issues here. This paper highlights the central role of horse identification and legal registration of ownership to safeguard the health and welfare of horses.
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