Farm Animal Wellbeing Expert Forum
David, Jon and Bruce recently attended the 12th Boehringer Ingelheim Expert Forum in Prague. A wide range of high calibre speakers visited all aspects of the question, the conference flowed really well, and the delegates were "put to work" in debating various aspects of animal wellbeing and developing innovative tools and solutions.
Some key messages we took home were;
- Sustainability is economic, environmental and social but a key part of it is acceptability
- Robert Erhard of Nestle told the conference that there was a real need for vets to engage and provide input in sustainable food production
- If we together engage in Farm Animal Wellbeing and take ownership and work together we will have the opportunity and freedom to operate, but if we wait we will have legislation thrust upon us
- For the citizen the key concern around Animal Wellbeing is confinement, closely followed by antimicrobial use. Further research is required around expression of "normal behaviour" - what this means to modern domesticated livestock and how this can be measured as assurance schemes generally don't address this
- Prof Xavier Manteca gave a fascinating presentation on 3 key mechanisms whereby improved animal welfare can impact antimicrobial use (AMU) and therefore antimicrobial resistance AMR)
- There was a clear theme through the workshop outputs that empowering veterinary surgeons to engage with farmers and the citizen was key. Continuing to educate vets in training and knowledge transfer techniques was really important.
And my number one "take home message" was from Laura Higham - "Vets can be the agents of change in driving the implementation of animal welfare science" VetSalus is well placed to take a lead on this.
Thanks to Boehringer Ingelheim for a fascinating meeting.