As part of the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the publication of JAAWS, the editors and the publisher, Taylor & Francis, are providing access links to the full texts of selected articles that have been published over the years. Below is the third batch of articles the full texts of which are now available for a four-month period.

This third set of articles (citations below) features farmed animal welfare. Beth Ventura (University of Lincoln, UK), Christopher Byrd (North Dakota State University), and Joao H. C. Costa (University of Kentucky), the associate editors of this section, provide the following text describing the history of research in that area.

Ken Shapiro, Founding Editor Emeritus

Farmed Animals

The drastic expansion of scientific research devoted to farm animal welfare is highly evident within the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science as it reaches its 25th year of publication. The early years of the journal presented a major focus on companion, laboratory, and exotic animal welfare. However, as the field of farm animal welfare science has grown, the journal has welcomed a greater representation of studies that focus solely on farmed species, both terrestrial and aquatic. While traditional welfare concerns such as inadequate housing, painful husbandry methods, and environmental stressors continue to be important topics within the published literature, welfare scientists are now moving beyond these concerns to focus on topics that have not been considered extensively in the past. For example, considerable attention is being paid to the implementation of effective environmental enrichment within commercial systems, the use of play behavior as an indicator of positive welfare, and assessment of both positive and negative emotional states in animals.

The positive impact of terrestrial farm animal welfare science is evident in the widespread adoption of third-party auditing programs that aim to ensure on-farm animal welfare. Within the past two decades, auditing programs that incorporate science-based animal welfare criteria have provided a pathway for large-scale, verifiable improvements in animal care. In “Development and validation of broiler welfare assessment methods for research and on-farm audits,” authors Meyer, Johnson, and Bobeck (2020) attempted to test and modify measures (e.g., lameness scoring, footpad dermatitis, air and litter quality) currently incorporated in a widely-used commercial broiler auditing tool. Additional modified animal-based measures (e.g., broiler home pen behavior, walking distance, human-approach test, breast blister and bone quality analysis) were evaluated to determine their feasibility for on-farm auditing use and whether they were capable of detecting changes in flock behavior due to environmental enrichment provision. The authors recommended that a modified lameness scoring be used to improve scoring accuracy and footpad dermatitis should be evaluated on live broilers within a commercial setting. Additionally, simplified measures of home pen behavior may help producers determine the positive effects of enrichment on their flock. Other measures, like walking distance, human-approach test, and bone analyses were found to be impractical for producer use within the context of an on-farm audit. However, their incorporation within a research context may be highly effective for evaluating broiler welfare and the positive effects of environmental enrichment. As the science related to animal welfare monitoring continues to progress, objective criteria indicative of enrichment use, positive animal welfare, and emotional states will likely be incorporated within these programs to help ensure a level of animal care that exceeds what we have previously deemed to be “acceptable.”

While traditional farm animal welfare concerns focus on identifying methodologies for relieving suffering experienced by animals on a large scale, progress within the field is allowing animal welfare scientists the opportunity to investigate both traditional concerns and the promotion of positive animal welfare on the level of individual animals. In the paper “The effects of lameness on social and individual behavior of dairy cows,” Galindo and Broom (2002) explore the effects of lameness, which is one of the most important welfare problems in dairy cattle. Most studies on lameness have focused on wide ranging surveys to identify causal factors, but few have considered the welfare implications of this disorder at the individual level. In their work, Galindo and Broom explore positive and negative social, lying, and feeding behavior of cows that are afflicted by lameness and found that lame cattle were less likely to start an aggressive interaction and were more likely licked by others. Also, lame cows spent more time lying out of the cubicles, had longer total lying times, and spent less time feeding. The behavioral differences seen show that lame cows do not cope as successfully with their environment as do non-lame cows. Also, these results provide useful information on how licking in dairy cows may play a role in alleviating discomfort of other herd members who are in pain or who are sick. This study from the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science was seminal to the study of how disease affected individual animal behavior.

A recent increase in publications devoted to farmed aquatic animal welfare demonstrates the progress that has been made in relation to species that were, at one time, considered incapable of subjective experiences. Traditional views on these subjects have been challenged to the point that we expect the field of farm animal welfare science to expand its realm of scientific inquiry to other non-traditional farmed species, including invertebrates. In “Investigating fear in rainbow trout using the conditioned suppression paradigm,” authors Yue, Duncan and Moccia (2008) contributed to the emerging discussion on subjective experiences in fish, their findings leading the authors to challenge “the view of fish as unconscious, non-sentient animals.” (p. 26). Using a conditioned-suppression approach test in an attempt to tease out whether rainbow trout may consciously display avoidance behaviour, the study successfully demonstrated that an initially neutral stimulus (blue light) –consistently paired with an aversive stimulus (catch net inserted into the tank) –suppressed previously persistent positively reinforced behaviour in 16 of the 24 subjects (pendulum pressing to receive a food reward). The authors’ contributions mark the first foray of the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science in the scientific examination of subjective experiences in fishes. Their work represents an early example of attempts to grapple with the great complexity of animals farmed in far greater numbers than any of our terrestrial species.

Meyer, M. M., A. K. Johnson, and E. A. Bobeck. 2020. Development and validation of broiler welfare assessment methods for research and on-farm audits. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 23:4, 443-446. DOI:10.1080/10888705.2019.1678039

Galindo, F., & Broom, D. M. (2002). The effects of lameness on social and individual behavior of dairy cows. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 5:3, 193-201. DOI: 10.1207/S15327604JAWS0503_03

Yue, S., I.J.H. Duncan and R.D. Moccia. 2008. Investigating fear in rainbow trout (oncorhynchusmykiss) using the conditioned-suppression paradigm, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 11:1, 14-27, DOI: 10.1080/10888700701729106

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