Following the animal welfare and animal protection issues of recent years and the regulations entered into law, a change of era is clearly taking place, namely in the direction of humane animal husbandry. Many people are happy to buy the products of manufacturers for whom animal welfare and animal protection are of primary importance. It is worth first separating the related concepts, which began to develop from the mid-60s.
Animal protection: animal protection requires the appropriate treatment of all animals, and prohibits harmful human behavior and aggressive actions towards them. It is a practical activity that arises from a person’s sense of responsibility and duty.
Animal welfare: the concept of animal welfare is closely linked to animal protection. These requirements apply to both private individuals and civil organizations and state bodies. It means a set of holding conditions. Satisfying the needs and demands of the given animal species, keeping them in optimal conditions, for example providing adequate food, fluids, space for movement and rest. Every opportunity must be given to the animal to express its natural behavior.
Animal cruelty: cruelty to animals can be realized in several ways. This includes not only intentional acts of violence, but also negligence, failure to provide a healthy environment, psychological harm in the form of terror, torture or coercion.
These concepts were not only created, but they continued to develop and continue to develop to this day. So when we talk about animal welfare, it cannot be considered a finished concept either, since as science progresses, we dig deeper and deeper, and we learn more and more about the needs of animals, and we are able to satisfy them at an increasingly higher level.
Let’s clear up some misconceptions:
About the free range:
In a survey conducted by Kométa in March 2022, nearly three-quarters (73%) of the respondents said that animal welfare can only be maintained in free-range systems, moreover, more than 9 out of ten (92%) believe that animal welfare is when animals are not kept in sheds and cages.
The word «free» really sounds very positive, it fits perfectly in a text context with the words «animal welfare» and «animal protection» and «nature», but unfortunately many people do not realize that this way of keeping animals can lead to stress and even to the death of the animal too.
Animals kept in this way are demanding: inclement weather, predators and parasites are all lurking for them as a source of danger. That is why the larger a farm is, the more difficult it is to meet the strict criteria and high investment costs.
The question of antibiotics:
In the aforementioned survey, almost all respondents (96%) said that animal welfare means that the animal is healthy, well-fed, and does not feel pain, fear, or anxiety. According to 94 percent, animal welfare includes gentle treatment and humane slaughter. At the same time, this contradicts the fact that according to 84% of the respondents, animal welfare means that animals do not receive antibiotics. The word antibiotic is often associated with negative image associations, not by chance, because the antibiotic entering the human body by eating animal meat or plants treated with its manure can be a source of danger for us. At the same time, the cases when it is necessary to use antibiotics can still be counted, specifically for animal protection and animal welfare reasons. After all, a sick animal not only suffers, but can also infect others. From January 28, 2023, veterinarians must submit data on the use of antibiotics for food-producing animals on a monthly basis.
The measures increased the demand for the introduction of antibiotic substitutes. These active ingredients are immune-boosting, health-preserving, digestive, antibacterial, and sometimes made of plant extracts.
Overall, it can be stated that the use of antibiotics and free-range farming among farm animals are popular topics today. At the same time, industry communications should not move in extreme and inconsistent directions, as this can often mislead consumers.