No one wants to see animals experience pain, unnecessary discomfort or suffering; their welfare is important to society. The internationally recognised principles of animal welfare are the ‘Five Freedoms’. These state that animals should be:
free from hunger and thirst;
free from discomfort;
free from pain, injury and disease;
free to express normal behaviour;
free from fear and distress.
Animal health is a prerequisite for maintaining animal welfare. AnimalhealthEurope members play a key role in providing the treatments and vaccines for ensuring that health, while the association is an active member of the new EU platform for Animal Welfare. The platform brings together Member States, EU bodies and organisations to encourage dialogue and debate on relevant animal welfare issues.
Our concern for animal welfare extends beyond farm animals, as we also provide for the welfare of pets and other assistance/working animals. Our members create the vaccines and treatments that help ensure companion animals enjoy a long and happy life.
Animal welfare and disease
There is no way to guarantee that an animal will remain healthy. As in people, ill-health is often the result of a complex combination of factors. Some are intrinsic, such as genetic make-up; some are external, such as living conditions and food; some are environmental, including weather or the presence of air or water-borne diseases. Even animals living in ideal conditions can fall ill.
Animal welfare and sustainable farming
Farm animals meet many of society’s basic needs. They provide food, in the form of milk, eggs and meat as well as wool for clothing. In return, society has a duty of care towards these animals, making sure they are fed, happy and healthy. Increasingly, consumers wish to know that the food they consume has come from animals that have enjoyed a healthy life and therefore a high standard of animal welfare. The higher the standards of animal welfare, the higher the quality of animal-origin products and the greater the trust consumers can have in the products.
This is why the animal health sector is so important for animal welfare. With vaccines and parasiticides, it can provide the means to prevent disease spreading amongst livestock, but also among pets. Where bacterial infections do break out, antibiotics are available to control them. So although the right conditions can help minimise the risk of disease, they can never prevent it completely. This is why animal welfare requires good animal husbandry, responsible pet ownership and access to effective treatments.