There is a critical
relationship between animal health and animal welfare and the OIE,
as the World Organisation for Animal Health, is well-placed to provide
international leadership in the field of animal welfare. The OIE's
initiative will involve the preparation of internationally applicable
guiding principles and standards for animal welfare, and it is committed
to ensure that its international standards are "science-based".
This commitment stems from the tradition of its internationally recognised
animal health standards having a solid science base to help prevent
countries from putting in place measures designed merely to restrict
foreign competition. In the case of animal welfare standards, there
is the fear that if standards are not "science-based", then
they may reflect anthropomorphic thinking or uninformed public opinion
about how animals ought to be handled. The conference will provide
an introduction to the science of animal welfare and its application
to animal welfare guiding principles and standards.
The initial part
of the Conference is designed to set the scene for the detailed discussions
to follow. The OIE's animal welfare initiative will be described,
and various speakers from the agriculture industry, consumers, developed
and developing countries and the international animal welfare movement
will present their viewpoints. This will provide a forum for the OIE
to communicate its activities and projects in the field of animal
welfare, and how various stakeholders concerned can contribute to
of animal welfare standards will require the traditional involvement
of the veterinary community, and of other key stakeholders in industry
and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who may have little knowledge
of animal welfare science, but who are keenly interested in being
actively involved on the subject. Therefore, the papers will be prepared
in order to be accessible to veterinarians and other scientists but
also to regulators, industry and NGO representatives.
programme foresees that key animal welfare issues may be divided into
various categories. These will be discussed under the following headings:
1. Space and
environment. What quality and quantity of living environment do animals
need for basic biological functioning (growth, rate of lay, etc.),
for physical and thermal comfort, and for important types of behaviour?
How have these needs been determined, and how are they reflected (or
might they be reflected) in guiding principles, guidelines and standards?
Topics will include research on space needs in relation to basic activities
and productivity; and approaches to the design of animal housing facilities.
handling and transport. How is animal welfare affected by the actions
of caretakers, both on and off the farm? How do particular environments
provided during transport and handling affect animal welfare? Topics
will include, for example, flight parameters, learned fear, and pre-slaughter
management. This section will be coordinated with the following section
considering pain, fear and distress.
3. Pain, fear,
and distress. What affective states (pain, fear, distress, frustration)
are of concern in the welfare of animals? How can these states be
recognised, and mitigated or prevented? How has research in this field
contributed, or how might it contribute, to the development of animal
welfare standards? Topics will include painful procedures (castration,
dehorning), use of anaesthetics and analgesics, separation distress,
temperament, fear reactions, and positive states such as contentment
4. Injury and
disease. What is the role of injury and disease in animal welfare?
How are injury and disease recognised, and mitigated or prevented?
Topics will include infectious disease, the use of draft animals,
environmentally induced disease such as lameness, and the role of
genetics in health.
5. Food, water
and malnutrition. How do the quality of food and water, and the different
methods of providing them, affect animal welfare? This will deal with
both affective states (hunger, thirst) and the biological effects
of malnutrition or under-nutrition. Topics to be considered include
chronic hunger in limit-feeding systems; the role of genetics in hunger
(e.g. broiler breeders); and the effects of water and food quality
In each of these
topics, engaging examples of relevant research will be given, indicating
some of the methods applied, and how the knowledge gained has contributed
(or might contribute) to animal welfare standards.
It should be
borne in mind that the OIE's initial activities decided by its Member
Countries in developing animal welfare guiding principles and standards
will focus on (1) land transport, (2) sea transport (3) humane slaughter
for human consumption, and (4) depopulation for disease control purposes.
Four OIE ad hoc expert groups have been established to address these
topics and reports from the Groups will be presented for discussion
at the Conference.
The idea that
three broad social concerns over the welfare of animals (that animals
should function well, feel well, and live reasonably natural lives)
have given rise to three broad approaches in animal welfare science
will be analysed. These approaches are (1) a biological functioning
approach which emphasizes health, growth, reproduction, and related
measures, (2) an affective state approach which emphasizes negative
states such as pain and fear combined with positive states such as
pleasure and contentment, and (3), a natural living approach which
emphasizes normal behaviour and/or quasi-natural environments.
welfare guidelines adopted by some regional organisations reflect
different degrees of emphasis on these three approaches. Proponents
of these different guidelines sometimes claim that their approach
is (uniquely) science-based and, therefore, free from value-related
judgements. However it is clear that all approaches involve science
and that scientists inevitably apply value-related judgements in deciding
which scientific approach to follow.
will be a key tool supporting the OIE on this difficult but exciting