Animals are sentient beings that should be treated humanely at all times. It is sad to come across animals on our roads or in farms whose well-being has been totally neglected by their owners. But what exactly is animal welfare?
Animal welfare lacks a precise definition and a satisfactory distinction with “welfare”. Animal welfare can thus be defined as the ability of an animal to interact comfortably with its environment, resulting in the satisfaction of its physical and mental state. This satisfaction triggers the expression of normal behaviors by the animal.
Specifically, animal “welfare” refers to the current state of the animal, but animal welfare is a more general term referring to the past, present and future implications of the state of the animal.
Animal welfare is therefore at the heart of any good agricultural enterprise. According to the most accepted definition – actually an operational definition. “An individual’s well-being is his physiological and psychological state in relation to his attempts to cope with his environment.”
Animal welfare refers to that of a good quality of life resulting from the harmonization of the different aspects of welfare such as mental well-being, natural behavior and physical well-being.
Animal welfare includes physiological and mental health and is influenced by several external and internal factors. Animal welfare can be approached by asking three basic questions: is the animal functioning well, does it feel well and is it able to live according to its normal behavior. Animal welfare legislation in Kenya is enshrined in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1962, which was revised in 2012. ‘animals.
The five animal freedoms
To ensure good animal welfare, animal owners must ensure that the provisions of the five animal freedoms are respected:
Freedom from hunger and thirst with easy access to cool, fresh water and a well-constituted, balanced diet to maintain full health and vigor.
Freedom from thermal or physical discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area. This protects your animals from the strong weather elements of sun and wind as well as rain and cold.
Freedom from pain, injury and disease through the prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment of disease. This ensures that the animals are healthy at all times.
Freedom to express normal behaviors by providing sufficient space, appropriate physical facilities and companionship of the same species as the animal.
Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment that avoid mental suffering. As pet owners. we are ethically bound to ensure a good state of well-being for the animals in our care. In some cases, this will be clearly associated with a cost.
Benefits of good animal welfare
Good welfare has many benefits such as increased milk and egg production, rapid growth rate, reduced production diseases and improved longevity, increased consumer confidence in livestock products and disease prevention in humans and animals. Draft animals such as donkeys are also able to work comfortably for many years, improving their livelihoods.
The main indicators of poor well-being are many and varied and include: Behavioral changes and disturbances – these are the first line of defense in situations of illness or stress, lameness and injury, reproductive disorders and metabolic and behavioral disorders.
To maintain an optimal level of well-being, an animal most often tries to cope with its immediate environment by adapting to the circumstances. Failure to follow good animal welfare practices leads to poor animal welfare. Public scrutiny of production practices in animal agriculture is increasing around the world.
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