Animals2013, 3(4), 1123-1141; doi:10.3390/ani3041123 - published online 3 December 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In pig production, pregnant sows are either housed in individual crates or in groups, the latter being mandatory in the EU since 2013. The consequences of different housing conditions on the immune system are however poorly investigated, although immunological alterations may have severe consequences for the animal’s health, performance, and welfare. This study assessed measures of blood celluar immunity with special emphasis on T cells in pregnant German Landrace sows either housed in individual crates or in a social group. Blood samples were taken at four samplings pre partum toevaluate numbers of lymphocyte subpopulations, mitogen-induced lymphocyte proliferation and cytokine-producing T cells. Plasma cortisol concentrations were evaluated as an indicator of stress. We found lower blood lymphocyte numbers (p < 0.01) in individually housed as opposed to group-housed sows, an effect due to lower numbers of cytotoxic T cells, naive TH cells, and CD8+ gd-T cells. Individually housed sows showed higher cortisol concentrations (p < 0.01), whereas lymphocyte functionality did not differ between sows of both housing systems. Possible implications and underlying mechanisms for the endocrine and immunological differences are discussed. We favor the hypothesis that differences in the stressfulness of the environment contributed to the effects, with crate-housing being a more stressful environment—at least under conditions of this study.
Animals2013, 3(4), 1086-1122; doi:10.3390/ani3041086 - published online 2 December 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In recent European animal welfare statutes, human actions injurious to animals are new “offences” articulated as an injury to societal norms in addition to property damage. A crime is foremost a violation of a community moral standard. Violating a societal norm puts society out of balance and justice is served when that balance is returned. Criminal law normally requires the presence of mens rea, or evil intent, a particular state of mind; however, dereliction of duties towards animals (or children) is usually described as being of varying levels of negligence but, rarely can be so egregious that it constitutes criminal societal injury. In instrumental justice, the “public goods” delivered by criminal law are commonly classified as retribution, incapacitation and general deterrence. Prevention is a small, if present, outcome of criminal justice. Quazi-criminal law intends to establish certain expected (moral) standards of human behavior where by statute, the obligations of one party to another are clearly articulated as strict liability. Although largely moral in nature, this class of laws focuses on achieving compliance, thereby resulting in prevention. For example, protecting the environment from degradation is a benefit to society; punishing non-compliance, as is the application of criminal law, will not prevent the injury. This paper will provide evidence that the integrated meat complex of Canada and the USA is not in a good position to make changes to implement a credible farm animal protection system.
Animals2013, 3(4), 1073-1085; doi:10.3390/ani3041073 - published online 21 November 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Large-scale disasters have immeasurable effects on human and animal communities. Evaluating and reporting on the response successes and difficulties encountered serves to improve existing preparedness documents and provide support to those in the process of developing plans. Although the majority of disasters occur in low and middle income nations, less than 1% of the disaster literature originates from these countries. This report describes a response to a disease outbreak in domestic dogs in Dichato, Chile following the 2010 earthquake/tsunami. With no national plan coordinating the companion animal response, there was a chaotic approach among animal welfare organizations towards rescue, diagnosis, treatment and record-keeping. Similar to the medical response following the 1985 earthquake near Santiago, we experienced problems within our own teams in maintenance of data integrity and protocol compliance. Loss of infrastructure added complications with transportation, communications and acquisition of supplies. Similar challenges likely occur in most disasters, but can be reduced through pro-active planning at national and local levels. There is sufficient information to support the human and animal welfare benefits of including companion animals in national planning, and lessons learned through this and other experiences can assist planners in the development of comprehensive and locally relevant contingency plans.
Animals2013, 3(4), 1058-1072; doi:10.3390/ani3041058 - published online 8 November 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: We analysed two consecutive inspection reports for each of 136 British zoos made by government-appointed inspectors between 2005 and 2011 to assess how well British zoos were complying with minimum animal welfare standards; median interval between inspections was 1,107 days. There was no conclusive evidence for overall improvements in the levels of compliance by British zoos. Having the same zoo inspector at both inspections affected the outcome of an inspection; animal welfare criteria were more likely to be assessed as unchanged if the same inspector was present on both inspections. This, and erratic decisions as to whether a criterion applied to a particular zoo, suggest inconsistency in assessments between inspectors. Zoos that were members of a professional association (BIAZA) did not differ significantly from non-members in the overall number of criteria assessed as substandard at the second inspection but were more likely to meet the standards on both inspections and less likely to have criteria remaining substandard. Lack of consistency between inspectors, and the high proportion of zoos failing to meet minimum animal welfare standards nearly thirty years after the Zoo Licensing Act came into force, suggest that the current system of licensing and inspection is not meeting key objectives and requires revision.
Animals2013, 3(4), 1036-1057; doi:10.3390/ani3041036 - published online 4 November 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Poor bovine neonatal survival rates are an international animal welfare issue. The key modifiable risk factors associated with such loss are age at first calving in primiparae, calf breed, gender and gestation length and calving management. The primary causes of mortality in the perinatal period are calving problems, in particular dystocia, defined as both difficult and abnormal calvings. Calf loss rates are rising on modern dairy farms in many countries internationally. High calf loss rates are often not recognised at national or at farm-level; recording needs to be improved. Improving bovine neonatal survival requires re-prioritization of this issue. Stakeholders need to be made cognisant of this prioritization. Actions to effect change need to occur at both national and farm-levels. National-level actions need firstly to address raising awareness of the issue. Farm-level actions need to focus on identifiable problem farms through targeted surveillance. Application of existing knowledge to alter modifiable risk factors is the key to improving calf welfare in the future. Research also has a role to play in filling knowledge gaps in particular about the ‘unexplained stillbirth’.
Animals2013, 3(4), 1021-1035; doi:10.3390/ani3041021 - published online 31 October 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The demand for organically-grown produce is increasing worldwide, with one of the drivers being an expectation among consumers that animals have been farmed to a high standard of animal welfare. This review evaluates whether this expectation is in fact being met, by describing the current level of science-based knowledge of animal health and welfare in organic systems. The primary welfare risk in organic production systems appears to be related to animal health. Organic farms use a combination of management practices, alternative and complementary remedies and convenional medicines to manage the health of their animals and in many cases these are at least as effective as management practices employed by non-organic producers. However, in contrast to non-organic systems, there is still a lack of scientifically evaluated, organically acceptable therapeutic treatments that organic animal producers can use when current management practices are not sufficient to maintain the health of their animals. The development of such treatments are necessary to assure consumers that organic animal-based food and fibre has not only been produced with minimal or no chemical input, but under high standards of animal welfare.