Evidence-based swine welfare: Where are we and where are we going?

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Johnson, Anna Kerr
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Johnson, Anna
Professor Animal Behavior and Welfare
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Animal Science

The Department of Animal Science originally concerned itself with teaching the selection, breeding, feeding and care of livestock. Today it continues this study of the symbiotic relationship between animals and humans, with practical focuses on agribusiness, science, and animal management.

The Department of Animal Husbandry was established in 1898. The name of the department was changed to the Department of Animal Science in 1962. The Department of Poultry Science was merged into the department in 1971.

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Behavior, ethology and welfare

Animal welfare is not a term that arose in science to express a scientific concept; rather, it arose in Western civilization to express ethical concern regarding the treatment of animals. There are three schools of welfare, and which school an individual subscribes to will often influence the philosophical definitions of welfare to which they subscribe. The first school is a feeling based school, which would include some reference to the importance of ascertaining what an animal feels in terms of pleasure, suffering, distress, and pain. The second school is a functioning-based school in which there is a focus on the fitness and health of animals. The third school is a nature-based school that values the natural behaviors of animals under natural conditions. The idea of feelings being important for welfare was developed by Duncan 1 and Duncan and Dawkins,2 and then the suggestion was made that, in fact, feelings were the only thing that mattered.3 ln turn, because of these various schools of thought, animal welfare researchers are still unable to agree on one animal welfare definition, but the measures that can be used to help assess how an animal is coping within defined parameters have been agreed upon. Animal welfare is an issue that involves several scientific disciplines that are part of the animal sciences, which include performance, physiology, anatomy, health, and behavior.4 Perhaps the discipline that has been most closely associated with welfare is the study of animal behavior, known as ethology.4 The term applied ethology is often used to designate the subdiscipline of studying the behavior of animals that are managed in some way by humans. Gonyou4 noted, "Applied ethology involving agricultural species has become so closely associated with the scientifi,c study of animal welfare that some use the terms behavior, ethology and welfare as virtual synonyms." 4 The objective of this paper will be to discuss three case studies using pig behavior that may be used on farm by a swine practioner.


This proceeding is from Johnson, A. K. 2011. Evidence-based swine welfare: Where are we and where are we going? Proceedings of the 42nd American Association of Swine Veterinarians Annual Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona, pp 403-407. Posted with permission.

Sat Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2011