Making animal welfare improvements: economic and other incentives and constraints

cuckooUFAW International Animal Welfare Symposium 2011

28th - 29th June 2011,
Portsmouth Historic Dockyards, UK


Background and Aims of the Symposium

During recent years the husbandry of many kept animals (farmed, companion, research, zoo and others) and the effects of harvesting and control methods used for free-living wild animals, have been reviewed in the light of modern understanding of animal welfare.

Picture courtesy of Portsmouth City CouncilIn many cases (perhaps almost all), it is concluded that welfare is not as good as society would wish and, often, that there is a need for considerable improvement. However, having established through such reviews of various species that there are problems, progress in tackling them is not always as prompt or certain as might be hoped (for example FAWC recently reported that ‘the evidence is that the welfare of dairy cows has not improved significantly over the last decade’ (FAWC 2009 Opinion on the welfare of the dairy cow.

The aim of this conference was to consider economic aspects of animal welfare - economic incentives and constraints - and the societal attitudes of which these are a reflection. How much an individual, or society as a whole, is prepared to pay for animal welfare improvements appears to vary greatly depending on the species and circumstances of the animal. To what extent is this subject to change? Finding ways to develop economic drivers and incentives has proved to be a successful approach to animal welfare improvements in some cases. What potential is there for widely developing this approach?


Day One (28th June 2011)

9.10 – 9.20 Introduction

  • James Kirkwood (UFAW, UK) Welcome and Introduction

9.20 – 10.35  Session 1: Chair: Professor Henry Buller

  • Peter Sandøe (University Of Copenhagen, Denmark)
    What Can Economists Do For Animal Welfare?
  • David Bayvel (Maf Biosecurity New Zealand)
    Animal Welfare: A Complex International Public Policy Issue - The Economic, Policy, Societal, Cultural And Other Drivers And Constraints. A 20 Year International Perspective
  • Dominic Moran (Scottish Agricultural College, UK)
    Developing An Abatement Cost Curve For Animal Welfare

11.15 – 12.30  Session 2: Chair: Professor Linda Keeling

  • Chiara Lombardini-Riipinen (University Of Helsinki, Finland)
    Testing The Animal Welfare Kuznets Curve Hypothesis: Methodological And Data Availability Issues
  • Jonathan Guy (University of Newcastle, UK)
    Economic Evaluation Of High Welfare Indoor Farrowing Systems For Pigs
  • Joy Pritchard (The Brooke, UK) 
    Non-Economic Incentives To Improve Animal Welfare: The Emergence Of Positive Competition As A Driver For Change Among Owners Of Draught And Pack Animals In India

14.00 – 15.00  Session 3  Chair: Professor John Webster

  • Mariëlle Bruijnis (Wageningen University, The Netherlands)
    Foot Disorders In Dairy Cattle: Impact On Economics And Animal Welfare 
  • Fritha Langford (Scottish Agricultural College, UK)
    Culled Early Or Culled Late: Economic Decisions And Risks To Welfare In Dairy Cows
  • Alistair Scott (Scottish Agricultural College, UK)
    Interactions Between Profit And Welfare On Extensive Sheep Farms

15.45 – 17.00 Session 4  Chair: Dr Raphaëlle Botreau

  • Laura Green (University of Warwick, UK)
    Impact Of Rapid Treatment Of Sheep Lame With Footrot On Welfare And Economics And Farmer Attitudes To Lameness In Sheep
  • Lisa Collins (Queen’s University Belfast, UK) 
    Getting Our Priorities Straight: How Far Can We Trust Welfare Risk Assessment To Get It Right?
  • Rowena Packer (The Royal Veterinary College, UK)
    Preliminary Indications Of A Lack Of Owner Recognition Of Clinical Signs Related To A Conformational Inherited Disorder - A Potential Constraint To Improving Breeding Practices In Pedigree Dogs

Day Two (29th June 2011)

9.30 – 10.50 Session 5  Chair:  Professor David Bayvel

  • James Kirkwood (UFAW, UK)
    Introduction to the second day 
  • Linda Keeling (Swedish University Of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden)
    Designing animal welfare policies and monitoring progress
  • David Main (University of Bristol, UK)
    Can Assurance Schemes Improve Welfare Using Welfare Outcomes?
  • Elize van Lier (The University Of Western Australia, Australia
    Ethics Of Lamb Meat Chain Supply: A Chain Is As Strong As Its Weakest Link

11.15 – 12.45  Session 6  Chair: Professor Peter Sandøe

  • Ian Duncan (University of Guelph, Canada)
    The Global Animal Partnership 5-Step Animal Welfare Standards: A Welfare Labelling Scheme That Allows For Continuous Improvement
  • John Webster (University Of Bristol, UK)
    Critical Control Points In The Delivery Of Improved Animal Welfare
  • Richard Bennett (University of Reading, UK)
    Valuation Of Animal Welfare Improvements
  • Henry Buller (University of Exeter, UK)
    Co-Modifying Animal Welfare

14.00 – 15.10 Session 7  Chair: Professor Ian Duncan

  • Anna Olsson (Instituto De Biologia Molecular E Celular, Portugal)
    When Money Is Not The Matter: Attitudes To And Application Of Animal Welfare Measures In Biomedical Research
  • Kate Littin (MAF Biosecurity NZ Animal Welfare, New Zealand)
    Better Rodent Control By Better Regulation
  • Bruce Warburton (Landcare Research, New Zealand)
    Minimising The Number Of Individuals Killed In Long-Term Vertebrate Pest Management Programmes, And The Economic Incentives To Do So
  • Sylvie Vandenabeele (University of Swansea, UK)
    Development Of Minimal Impact Tags For Tracking Rehabilitated Seabirds

15.45 – 17.00 Session 8  Chair: Dr Anna Olsson

  • Sophia Hepple (DEFRA, UK)
    Making animal welfare improvements:  Economic and other incentives and constraints; The “Stick”, the “Carrot” or the “Licence”? 
  • Iaira Boissevain (University of Utrecht, The Netherlands)
    Dogs with Defects: Legislation and Lawsuits 
  • James Yeates (University of Bristol)
    Economics And Animal Welfare In Veterinary Practice: The Case Of Genetic Welfare Problems
  • Mike Radford (University of Aberdeen, UK)
    The Other 3 Rs: Research, Responsibility And Regulation (Or How We Got To Where We Are, And Why We Must Continue To Make Progress

Meeting report

Delegates from over 20 countries gathered in the Historic Dockyards, Portsmouth at the end of June to listen a range of talks considering incentives and constraints to making animal welfare improvements.

Professor Peter Sandøe (University of Copenhagen) outlined the challenge, highlighting the fact that whilst much work has been carried out over the last twenty years to better identify welfare problems facing animals and the means of addressing these, that there were still difficulties in prioritising between different welfare issues. His argument, which was echoed by Dr Dominic Moran (Scottish Agricultural College) was that economics was the way to solve this dilemma. Through adopting such an approach, he suggested, it would be possible to better ensure that the best possible deal is reached for all stakeholders- animals, producers, users/consumers – within budgetary restrictions. This occurs because an approach based on economics encourages a structured and transparent discussion of priorities (including the priorities of the animals), forces stakeholders to be explicit about costs and to identify what ‘end points’ would constitute successful implementation of measures to improve welfare.

Professor Linda Keeling (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) in her talk discussed how, when designing animal welfare policies for countries and/or different sectors of animal use, the ability to identify their stage of animal welfare policy development was key. This was because it allowed for the most effective policy to progress to the next stage of development to be selected alongside appropriate indicators of their effective implementation. Central to this, Professor Keeling noted, was the use of animal-based (outcome) indicators to confirm that policy initiatives were making the desired improvements to welfare.

Other speakers, eg Dr David Main (University of Bristol), Dr Alistair Stott (University of Edinburgh), expanded on such themes and gave practical examples of situations in which improvements could easily be made because they benefited both producer and the animal (so called ‘win-win’), and others where progress would be difficult (‘win-lose’) or undesirable (‘lose-lose’).

One of the other themes of the meeting that emerged was the constraint to welfare improvement of ‘cognitive dissonance’, in which the problem and means of addressing to it are known but where there is a failure to implement these solutions. Examples of this dissonance were discussed in relation to lameness in sheep (Professor Linda Green, University of Warwick) and the serious breathing difficulties, and associated welfare problems, faced by certain breeds of dog with greatly foreshortened muzzles; endemic in breeds such as the English bulldog, Pug, Boston Terrier, etc and known as Brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome. In both examples, the speakers suggested that the problem was not addressed as effectively as one might expect because of the view that it is ‘normal’ for the affected animals to show the problem.

In addition to these talks, a whole range of other thought provoking issues were raised by the other 50+ speakers and poster presenters. UFAW would like to thank all those who attended and/or contributed to the meeting and helped make it the success it was.