At the annual British Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Foundation (BVA AWF) Discussion Forum (Monday 17th May) delegates voted for the most
important animal welfare priorities, which the new Defra ministerial team should focus on.
Delegates were asked ‘What would you ask the new Defra Minister?’ and the
top three welfare issues chosen were:
1. exotic pets – the lack of understanding about their care needs, the abandonment of fashionable pets, and the disease risk of importing exotics to the UK,
2. welfare education and labelling information – the need for impartial expert information for consumers on farm animal welfare, as well as food and farming education in schools
3. welfare surveillance and prioritisation – the need for a welfare surveillance system that will allow the Government to better prioritise welfare issues.
This was all very well but the exotic point. No.1 was based on smear rather than factual information and the Chairman brushed aside a suggestion that some proper data be gathered on the basis that 'asking for data is often a way of delaying'. This strikes a blow against evidence based decisions! Fortunately data gathering should be part of priority 3!
There was a somewhat uncomfortable feeling that the issues of massive lameness problems in dairy cattle, tail biting in pigs and broiler hunger in chickens - all food species, could perhaps be pushed aside for these more 'important' issues that strangely didn't mention them except to gather data (perhaps thats what the Chair had in mind?). Strange that BVA is predominantly large animal based...