Animal welfare and the “key role” of the veterinarian

According to Eurobarometer data, 94% of Spaniards consider it important or very important to protect animal welfare on farms. The same study shows that 7 out of 10 Spaniards would like to have more information about the conditions under which animals are treated on farms in Spain. Therefore, animal welfare is very much in the minds of consumers when buying.

An issue that has jumped into the media spotlight in recent months. But what is animal welfare? “Animal welfare is the right state of physical and mental health”synthesizes before the complexity of the issue Tony DalmauResearcher of the Animal Welfare Program of IRTA (Institute for Research and Technology in Agricultural Food), in the veterinary podcast for the distribution of “Con V de Vet” of MSD Animal Health.

For years, legislators, veterinarians, researchers, organizations and farmers have worked side by side in the development and implementation of animal welfare regulations. “As a society, it is our duty to keep animals in Europe in the right conditions”points out Dalmau, a graduate of veterinary medicine from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

“The veterinarian has a paramount role because he is the person who is trained to understand the animal,” said the expert. Although, he continues, there is still a long way to go: “The veterinarian will have to make the leap that has been made in human medicine that was physical health years ago. Over the years, mental health has become more important to the point that today we understand that mental health is just as or more important than physical health. ”

Dalmau, who holds a European Diploma in Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law, recognizes the difficulty of ensuring animal welfare. And to justify himself, he gives an example: “Despite all the existing laws, we have not yet managed to ensure human well-being, because it is very complicated. The same thing happens with animals, something as complex as animal welfare cannot be ensured. ”

However, this shows it is possible to establish measures aimed at improving animal welfare, identification and work on risk factors and subsequent monitoring of their results directly in the animal through indicators of all kinds. “If a cow needs more than six seconds to lie down, it means something is wrong,” he said.

ROLE OF CONSUMERS

Dalmau is clear about that “The ranch is the first to be interested in high standards of animal welfare. The higher the productivity, the less problems you will have. ” Of course, increasing animal welfare increases the costs for producers who “in the first phase are covered by the animal because it will produce better”.

But there comes a time when the costs outweigh the production benefits of the animal itself. This is where the user’s figure appears. “If, as a society, we insist on improving animal welfare, but as consumers we go for the price and don’t pull the ranch forward, we’ll make a sandwich for the farmerDalmau warns.

To unravel this situation, the consumer must have animal welfare certificates, labels that are increasingly present in the meat products we find in supermarkets. “The big goal is to help the consumer with his choice to withstand the improvements in animal welfare,” according to Dalmau. Evolution that must be continuous. “In such a way that the improvements we apply to farms in 2022 will be different and smaller than those we will ask for in 2030 and 2040,” he said.

finally the researcher distinguishes the types of users we can find: “This consumer, who wants everything to be perfect on the first day, is curious, is the same consumer who will not pay to improve animal welfare. We need to understand the difference between a non-consumer and an active consumer who will help you move forward. ”

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