Science, Education and Debate form the three pillars of AWF’s approach to improving animal welfare. Through our annual Discussion Forum we give animal welfare its own platform and tackle controversial issues in a way that encourages self-reflection and inspires our delegates to take action and be advocates for change.
The theme for this year’s event was Protecting animal welfare in a changing world.
led by veterinary and animal welfare professionals, AWF tackles relevant topics, that are important today.
our sessions are presented in a balanced and evidence-based way to stimulate constructive debate.
A chance to learn, challenge and reflect on ideas with other like-minded people who share a passion for animal welfare.
and have 1-2-1 conversations with the researchers.
and explore the issues that they will come across in their working lives.
What are the interactions between farming methods, production systems, sustainability and welfare?
With the rise in farm focussed technology, the vast availability of health, welfare and production data and the increase in animal-based protein production to supply growing global markets, there has been a rapid increase in intensive farming around the world. Coupled with this, farming operations, herd, flock and group sizes have all increased over recent years in response to competitive pressures for efficient food production.
The UK government has adopted a sustainable intensification agenda for UK livestock agriculture and recent programmes have encouraged the UK to engage with ‘Transforming Food Production’, with a key focus on Carbon Net Zero and sustainability. Efficient food production can be associated with improvements in farming capital infrastructure and livestock monitoring.
However with intensive farming, comes concerns about the impact of large scale livestock, aquaculture and ‘factory’ farming. Public demand is increasingly favouring free range, organic and grazing-based farms and food retailers have introduced premiums for production methods that incorporate such systems. Sustainability can be defined in different ways; one suggestion is that it requires a balance between economics, environmental protection and social acceptability.
So with the drive for cheap, efficient and environment-sparing livestock agriculture continuing to grow, is intensive farming good for both welfare and sustainability?
This debate follows on from our 2019 session on overtreatment where we discussed how some treatments on offer lead to the pet’s quality of life becoming secondary to other pressures such as the owners’ desire to keep the animal going at all costs.
The current RCVS Code of Professional Conduct discusses the term ‘Recognised Veterinary Practice’ and defines it as ‘procedures and techniques performed on animals by veterinary surgeons in the course of their professional duties, which ensure the health and welfare of animals committed to their care.’ But there is no clear dividing line between what is done daily in many practices, especially referral practices, and experimental techniques. This session seeks to discuss where that dividing line should be and how the process of innovation should be controlled.
This session will be an in-depth exploration of how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected and is continuing to affect animal welfare. We will look at the impact across the profession and discuss specific areas such as how the pandemic is affecting different species and service providers, the new and emerging welfare problems and the impact on welfare charities.
This will be a very interactive discussion, with plenty of opportunity for delegates to share their own experiences and reflect on what they have learned. Together we will consider how we as a profession move forward and what animal welfare will/should look like in our post-covid world.
AWF invests in high quality research with the potential for practical outcomes and long-term benefit to animal welfare.
Find out about research projects on delayed euthanasia and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and learn about what our student researchers have been up to.