Scientific, Ethical, and Economic Aspects of Farm Animal Welfare


Task Force Co-chair

Candace Croney
Joy Mench
William Muir

Task Force Author(s)

Raymond Anthony
Gail Golab
Charles Hofacre
Michael Hulet
Anna K. Johnson
Jayson Lusk
Nicole Olynk Widmar
Allan Schinckel
Jan Shearer
Janice Swanson
Gary Varner
Yvonne Vizzier Thaxton

Task Force Reviewers

Mary Beck
Mike Engler
Arlene Garcia-Marquez
Paul Siegel
Jason Watters

Task Force Board Liaison

Robert Evans

Task Force Contributors

Susanne Hermesch
Task Force Reports
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Many conflicting values and norms in our society related to the use of animals lead to increasing disagreements about what constitutes a “good life” for the animals in our care. Broadly speaking, applied ethicists have discussed two different approaches to this topic—one focuses on the consequences of using animals in particular ways, and the other on the morality of that use, regardless of the consequences. These two positions are reflected in the “animal welfare” and “animal rights” views, respectively. Another ethical perspective is that animals are owed a good standard of care because of the benefits we derive from them. Nevertheless, understanding both the science and the ethics of animal welfare is critical to understanding and reconciling differing perspectives about animal care and use. This task force report addresses the issue by examining these key topics: the current issues facing agricultural animal production, insights into the origins of current welfare concerns, major scientific advances that have occurred since the 1997 CAST Task Force Report, and outstanding challenges and priority areas for future research, coordination, and outreach relative to agricultural animal welfare. Cochairs: Candace Croney, Purdue University; Joy Mench, University of California-Davis; and William Muir, Purdue University. R143, April 2018, ISBN 978-1-887383-37-9, 52 pp., $50.00. 

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Table of Contents

Interpretive Summary, 1
Executive Summary, 3
1 Introduction
2 Roles of Science and Ethics in Evaluating, Understanding, and Improving Animal Welfare
Introduction, 6
Role of Science, 6
Role of Ethics, 7
3 Economics and Markets for Animal Welfare
Introduction, 9
Citizen vs. Consumer Impacts on Markets for Animal Welfare, 9
Reducing the Economic Externalities Associated with Animal Welfare, 10
     Meat Taxes, 10
     Process Regulations, 10
     Meat Labels and Certification, 11
     A Market for Animal Welfare, 11
4 Regulation of Animal Welfare
Introduction, 12
Approaches to Regulating Farm Animal Welfare: Voluntary and Involuntary, 12
     Voluntary, 12
     Involuntary, 13
Advantages and Disadvantages of Voluntary/Involuntary Regulation of Animal Welfare, 13
5 Assessment of Welfare
Previous Challenges and Advancements in Welfare Assessment, 15
Emerging Methods and Metrics for Assessing Animal Welfare, 17
     Functional Genomics, 17
     Epidemiology, 17
     Automated and Noninvasive Animal Welfare Assessment Tools, 17
6 Advances in Animal Welfare and Outstanding Challenges
Introduction, 19
Housing Systems, 19
     Painful Management Practices, 20
Advancements and Outstanding Challenges in Genetics, 21
     Selection for Robustness, 21
     Selection for Behavioral Change, 22
     Selection for Social Effects, 22
Animal Handling, Transport, and Euthanasia/Slaughter, 23
     Handling and Transport, 23
7 Emerging Topics
Role of Animal Welfare in Sustainability, 24
Antimicrobial Resistance, 24
Global Developments and Challenges, 25
Urban Agriculture, 26
Assessing Animals’ Mental States, 26
     Cognition, 26
     Positive Welfare, 27
8 Future Needs
Area 1: Increase Capacity for Scientific Research on Animal Welfare in the United States, 28
Area 2: Increase Focus on Transdisciplinary Aspects of Animal Welfare Research, 29
Area 3: Develop Coordinated Mechanisms for Policy Setting, 30
Area 4: Communicating Animal Welfare, 30
Appendix A: Abbreviations and Acronyms, 32
Appendix B: Glossary, 33
Literature Cited, 34
Index, 41


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