“The size of a farm and its business configuration is not necessarily related to the quality of animal care,” said well-known animal welfare expert, Janice Swanson,  at the recent Animal Agriculture Alliance’s Stakeholders Summit in Arlington, Va. “Big isn’t necessarily bad. Each type of housing system comes with benefits and pitfalls that farmers, ranchers and concerned consumers must consider.”

Swanson, a professor and former interim head of the Animal Science Department at Kansas State University, emphasized the importance of considering a number of factors including behavior, health risks, productivity, quality, safety and more when comparing animal welfare in different housing systems.

In terms of evaluating animal care, Swanson indicated that the current voluntary approach to animal welfare can work as long as the systems include the key components of integrity, transparency, social responsibility, scientific-justifiability, dynamism and verifiability. “To meet these criteria a system requires genuine commitment and application consistency from producer through food retailer,” she said.

“Swanson’s experience and knowledge indicate that, contrary to the misinformation spread by some, good animal welfare can be achieved in a variety of systems,” said Kay Johnson, Alliance executive vice president. “It is important that all those in the food chain-- from farmers and ranchers to processors to retailers to consumers-- are aware of her insights and observations.”

Source: Animal Agriculture Alliance