Animal welfare in a sustainable agriculture E15
Linskens, M. S.
Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals, The Hague, NL-2585 CR, The Netherlands
|In intensive breeding, animals are regarded as
mere objects to meet the desire of mankind. In addition to this instrumental value it was
not until the last decade that the intrinsic value of animals came to be widely
recognized. This implies that animals have their own value, which is to be respected by
men. Recently the intrinsic value of animals is integrated in Dutch legislation on
Animal welfare is defined as »to be able to live physiologically and ethologically in harmony with its environment«. The housing system should be adapted to the needs of the animal and not the other way around. To be to show natural (species specific) behaviour and to be free of chronical stress, boredom and uncertainty are important criteria for a good welfare. In sustainable agriculture animals have to be kept in conditions that comply with their natural habits. This implies that the keeping of animals is extensive: animals kept in fewer numbers and given more space than in intensive breeding. Animal welfare should become first priority. Research in the Netherlands shows that meeting the criteria for free range pigs contributes to an improvement of their welfare. The intensive breeding of calves, sows and poultry in small boxes and batteries, the technical encroachments on their bodies for the benefit of men, the artificial stimulation of growth and the application of genetic engineering and other biotechnological techniques cannot be ethically justified in a sustainable agriculture.
Concerning animal welfare in sustainable agriculture problems should be dealt with in the next future. Major problems to be expected are cannibalism with poultry and health problems because of the outlet of animals.