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Animal care guidelines and future directions

Webster, A.B.
Poultry science 2007 v.86 no.6 pp. 1253-1259
domestic animals, animal care, animal welfare, guidelines, animal well-being, ethics, animal husbandry, animal health, animal housing, agricultural law
Two notions broadly accepted in developed western societies have made animal care guidelines inevitable. These are that domestic animals are sentient and that humans are responsible to ensure the proper care of domestic animals. Despite these common views, people have differing moral understandings of the human-animal relationship, and there are sharp divisions over how these views should be applied to domestic animal care. Animal care guidelines have been developed by different nations at several organizational levels to represent a compromise that is acceptable to most people. These organizational levels include individual poultry companies, national poultry associations, individual customers of the poultry industry, national associations of customer companies, national governments, and international organizations. Animal care guideline development has typically included input from producers and scientists and, depending on the sponsoring organization, animal advocates and government representatives as well. Animal advocacy groups have also sought to influence domestic animal care by campaigning against animal production practices or by offering their preferred guidelines for producers to adopt in the hope that the endorsement of the welfare group would add value to the product. Originally, animal care guidelines were only recommended, with little or no requirement for compliance. In recent years, the need for retail companies to assure certain welfare standards has led to animal welfare auditing of production facilities. Animal care guidelines primarily have sought to establish standards for handling and husbandry in existing production systems. Future guidelines may put increasing emphasis on adoption of alternative management practices or housing systems. International animal care guidelines are being developed on 2 levels (i.e., among national governments to create a common standard for trade in animal products and within international retail companies to create company-wide animal care standards). These initiatives should tend to unify farm animal care standards worldwide but perhaps at a level some nations might consider lower than preferable.