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Animal Welfare Education from an Engineering Perspective: USA Penn State Initiative

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2012 IX International Livestock Environment Symposium (ILES IX)  ILES12-1477.(doi:10.13031/2013.41573)
Authors:   Eileen Fabian Wheeler
Keywords:   Animal welfare, farm, facility, natural behavior, well-being, livestock, poultry, horse, dairy

Animal welfare has been an important ingredient of livestock facility design for comfort, fresh food-water, health and safety. Increased scrutiny in relation to ability of animals to exhibit natural behaviors is focusing attention on more aspects of animal well being in relation to how they are raised in modern farming commercial settings. Within the United States of America there is sporadic yet sometimes intense debate focused of animal welfare issues. The initial driving force for the creation of a Penn State Extension, Animal Welfare Initiative is that farm animal welfare issues are seen as a potential future bottleneck for successful agriculture in Pennsylvania (northeastern USA serving major metropolitan areas). Gathering and presenting science-based information related to animal welfare is the main objective of the initiative. There are dozens of people in the Penn State University, College of Agricultural Sciences who are already working on various aspects of animal welfare. The Initiatives initial purpose was to network these folks to develop cross-disciplinary collaborations beyond what is already established. Although focused on farm and food animals at this juncture, an expansion of collaborations across the University would be productive. One of the Animal Welfare Initiatives goals is to provide a science-based platform to describe and explain the rationale for animal agriculture production practices in the USA. Issues such as egg production from hens in cages, pregnant sows in crates, and tethered veal calves have received legislative scrutiny over the past few years. The initiative needs to recognize the emotion invested in some of the animal welfare debates from both the agriculture and activist perspectives.

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