As we celebrate Independence Day in this country and the freedoms we have as individuals, it’s a good time to reflect on what individuals in our cattle industry are doing to promote the “Five Freedoms” of cattle welfare.
Dan Thomson, DVM, PhD, Beef Cattle Institute, Kansas State University, says the five freedoms were determined by the Farm Animal Welfare Council as things we need to be sure to provide for farms animals under our care. “They all make common sense,” Thomson says.
Developed in 1983 by the United Kingdom Farm Animal Welfare Council, the Five Freedoms for Farm Animals are:
- Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition.
- Freedom from environmental challenge (discomfort)
- Freedom from disease, injury and functional impairment
- Freedom to express normal behavior
- Freedom from anxiety, fear, pain and distress
“We do a great job providing these for beef cattle,” Thomson says. “The BQA training and the new self-assessment tools for feedyards, stockers and cow-calf operations were founded on these principles.”
The Beef Cattle Institute just finished assessing approximately 80% of the fed cattle capacity in Kansas and found that producers are doing a fantastic job of providing these five freedoms. “I really commend people like Tom Noffsinger and Temple Grandin for their hard work on educating people on cattle behavior and cattle handling,” Thomson says. “Our cattle handling practices in feedyards is outstanding.”
But there’s always room for improvement. Thomson says a couple of areas of animal welfare interest in the future of the beef industry include examining cattle comfort from environmental stressors such as heat stress or mud, decreasing stress associated with castration/dehorning and preventing BRD through preconditioning cattle prior to entering the marketing system.
Find out more at the Beef Cattle Institute.