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The Challenges to Improve Farm Animal Welfare in the United Kingdom by Reducing Disease Incidence with Greater Veterinary Involvement on Farm
Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Roslin Institute and the University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Roslin, Midlothian, EH25 9RG, UK
Received: 5 June 2013; in revised form: 1 July 2013 / Accepted: 4 July 2013 / Published: 10 July 2013
Simple Summary: Sick cattle and sheep are often treated by farmers without prior veterinary examination and, as a consequence, incorrect diagnoses and inappropriate therapies are common, but these failings largely go undetected and unreported. Many farmers maintain that market forces render veterinary care of individual sick sheep and cattle too expensive. Delays in requesting veterinary attention are not uncommon causing unnecessary animal suffering and a poorer outcome. Incidence rates of endemic diseases in the United Kingdom are too high, causing animal welfare concerns, but these could be reduced by the implementation of proven veterinary flock/herd health programmes.
Abstract: The Cattle Health and Welfare Group of Great Britain report (CHAWG; 2012) lists the most important cattle diseases and disorders but fails to fully acknowledge the importance of animal mental health and; in so doing; misses the opportunity to further promote animal welfare. There are effective prevention regimens; including vaccination; husbandry and management strategies for all ten listed animal health concerns in the CHAWG report; however control measures are infrequently implemented because of perceived costs and unwillingness of many farmers to commit adequate time and resources to basic farm management tasks such as biosecurity; and biocontainment. Reducing disease prevalence rates by active veterinary herd and flock health planning; and veterinary care of many individual animal problems presently “treated” by farmers; would greatly improve animal welfare. Published studies have highlighted that treatments for lame sheep are not implemented early enough with many farmers delaying treatment for weeks; and sometimes even months; which adversely affects prognosis. Disease and welfare concerns as a consequence of sheep ectoparasites could be greatly reduced if farmers applied proven control strategies detailed in either veterinary flock health plans or advice available from expert veterinary websites. Recent studies have concluded that there is also an urgent need for veterinarians to better manage pain in livestock. Where proven treatments are available; such as blockage of pain arising from ovine obstetrical problems by combined low extradural injection of lignocaine and xylazine; these are seldom requested by farmers because the technique is a veterinary procedure and incurs a professional fee which highlights many farmers’ focus on economics rather than individual animal welfare.
Keywords: animal welfare; disease prevention; pain; analgesia; treatment; health plans
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MDPI and ACS Style
Scott, P.R. The Challenges to Improve Farm Animal Welfare in the United Kingdom by Reducing Disease Incidence with Greater Veterinary Involvement on Farm. Animals 2013, 3, 629-646.
Scott PR. The Challenges to Improve Farm Animal Welfare in the United Kingdom by Reducing Disease Incidence with Greater Veterinary Involvement on Farm. Animals. 2013; 3(3):629-646.
Scott, Philip R. 2013. "The Challenges to Improve Farm Animal Welfare in the United Kingdom by Reducing Disease Incidence with Greater Veterinary Involvement on Farm." Animals 3, no. 3: 629-646.