Welcome to the introduction to module 1. In this module, we will handle the theories behind animal welfare, the legislation, farm management, pigs behavior and handling and the role of the Veterinary Inspection.
The protection of animals at the time of slaughter or killing is a matter of public concern that affects consumer attitudes towards agricultural products. The protection of animals at the time of slaughter or killing is the duty of the farmer or any person involved in the killing of animals. They need to take the necessary measures to avoid pain and minimize the distress and suffering of animals. Besides that, it is an ethical duty to kill productive animals which are in severe pain where there is no economically viable way to alleviate such pain, suffering and distress. Good animal welfare management is influenced by the farm facility, people’s behavior and good understanding of the animals’ natural behavior as well as his behavior under stress.
The requirement for the competence of staff handling animals at the farm should be specific enough to include in particular the following objectives in the context of the interaction and the species concerned:
- Understand the ethical principles concerning the human-animal relationship
- Show general knowledge and understanding of animal behavior
- Identify and understand the signs of pain, suffering and distress including fear of animals
- Show practical abilities in the foreseen interaction while preventing or limiting animals’ pain, suffering and distress
- Show knowledge of the legal obligations related to the protection and welfare of animals
- Prove the acquired and maintained competence through an independent and objective examination.
The pigs perspective
Staff – handlers approach should be balanced when handling animals to keep low level of stress. The same is true when the conditions on the farm suddenly change caused by an outbreak of a disease.
Animal welfare principles in a global context
Individuals, societies, cultures and religions vary considerably in what is considered “right action” when it comes to how animals should be treated. As a result there have been numerous attempts to define the term “animal welfare”, but as yet no universally agreed definition. In common usage welfare is perceived as a satisfactory or positive state and words such as “good health”; “well being” and “happiness” are frequently used.
Some of the more recognized scientific definitions include: “Welfare, on a general level, is a state of complete mental and physical health where the animal is in harmony with its environment.” (Hughes 1976). More detailed approaches to try and define animal welfare revolve around three areas or questions:
- Physical state – Is the animal fit and healthy?
- Mental state – Is the animal happy?
- Naturalness – Is the animal living a natural life?
Most agree that these three elements are not mutually exclusive and the aim should be to develop and manage systems which take into account all of these aspects.
This new EU legislation describes the rules for killing of animals bred or kept for the production of food etc. during slaughter, as well as the killing of animals for the purpose of depopulation and for related operations.
The OIE code
In 2007, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) adopted the Terrestrial Animal Health Code, which includes guidelines for the killing and slaughter of animals. In this module, we will follow mainly the definitions as described in the Terrestrial Animal Health Code of the International Standards of OiE, and the definition of animal welfare at time of killing as described in reg. EU1099/2009.
According to dr. Temple Grandin, one of the world most influential animal welfare specialists, animals are not things and the protection of animals at the time of slaughter or killing is a matter of public concern. This module focuses on moments in life of animals to be considered to have high risks for animals experiencing stress and pain.
Learning objectives of this module
This introduction module will cover the following learning objectives
1. Short introduction how to apply welfare principles on the farm:
- What needs to be done to maintain animal welfare principles during animal handling
- What are the critical control points for welfare principles during animal handling
- Examples of good practice during animal handling
2. What is the influence of the design of facilities and equipments in the euthanasia management on the farm:
- What is described in Reg. EU 1099/2009 regarding the role of the farm management of how to apply animal welfare principles with respect to the design of farm facilities
- What is described in Reg. EU 1099/2009 regarding the farm management of how to apply animal welfare principles with respect to the design and use of slaughter equipment on the farm
3. How to apply animal welfare principles:
- How to apply animal welfare principles at the farm facility
- Examples of good practices on how to apply animal welfare principles during handling
4. The pig and its normal behaviour
- The pigs’ natural behaviour
- The pigs’ normal behaviour in groups
- How pigs respond to stress and changes in their environment
- The pigs’ visual capacities and how this influences its behaviour to stress
- The pigs’ vocal capacities, as an indicator for stress
- The pigs’ body language and how to determine stress indicators
- The pigs’ learnt behaviour and how this influences his reaction to stress at the slaughterhouse
5. Handling and movement of pigs
Then we will go into more details on handling pigs during movement on the farm and during uploading for the transport:
- Introduction to the movement of pigs
- Arousal levels of pigs
- Principles of smooth uploading
- Moving pigs: Fight, flight or freeze
- How to use The pigs’ point of balance
6. The role of the Veterinary Inspector
In the end of this module, we will discuss the role of the Veterinary Inspector in his role as representative of the competent authority, assessing farm facility and the responsibilities of the farmer and his staff.