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Animal Health and Welfare

Welcome to Week 2 which will focus on the importance of animal health and welfare.


Welcome to week 2. The aim of this week is to learn about herd management, focusing on technological innovation, protection of animal welfare and environmental sustainability.

Throughout the week you will gain an increased awareness about the production of food from animals that are reared inside farms; guaranteeing respect for the ethology, welfare and health of animals; and protection of the environment.

Animal welfare is defined by the 5 freedoms:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst

  2. Freedom from discomfort

  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease

  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour

  5. Freedom from fear and distress.

The well-being of the animal is important both for economic and environmental/health reasons. In fact, poor animal welfare results in a loss of productivity and an increased need to use antibiotics and other treatments.

Another important tool to improve the animals’ performance and health and allow the reductions of antibiotics, is the use of feed additives. Feed additives may act in different ways. For instance, some of them provide specific nutrients (e.g. vitamins), others enhance digestibility, or they can reduce the population of pathogenic mircoorganisms. They are carefully regulated by the European Union.

Moreover, you will learn how global distribution and the increased complexity of food chains have changed the occurrence of specific pathogens and how this is controlled from farm to fork by a plethora of workers with different skills.

During the week you will discuss the use of drugs in animal production and achieve a greater understanding about how the breeder is the first to be involved in the protection of animals, but above all the first to benefit from it.

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Farm to Fork: Sustainable Food Production in a Changing Environment

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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