Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions on animal health and welfare
FAQ lmage
© QUB and Turin

In this section you will find an answer to frequently asked questions on the topic of animal health and welfare.

1. What is animal welfare?

Animal welfare is the protection of the health and well-being of animals. It is defined by the five freedoms. Freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and diseases; freedom to express normal behaviour; and freedom from fear and stress. Animal welfare is achieved by the correct organisation and management of the farm. European entities have regulated many aspects of animal breeding and are continuing to put effort in researching the optimal breeding conditions for each species.

2. Is it possible to conduct intensive farming in a sustainable and ethical manner?

Yes. Thanks to ethology and animal health research; technological progress; and the diffusion of a new perspective which considers breeding as a unique production process that is affected by multiple factors, it is now possible to give practical indications on how to build and manage the optimal husbandry that provides animals with the utmost respect for their ethology; creates hygienic conditions which prevent the spread of disease on farms; and ensures maximum environmental sustainability.

3. What is precision feeding?

Precision feeding is the provision of the right amount, proportion and composition of feed to meet the nutrient requirements of animals as accurately as possible in order to achieve safe, high quality and efficient production, while ensuring the lowest possible load on the environment.

4. What are feed additives?

Feed additives are products used in animal nutrition for purposes of improving the quality of feed and the quality of food from animal origin, or to improve the animals’ performance and health. Feed additives include substances, micro-organisms or preparations which are intentionally added to feed or water in order to favourably affect the characteristics of feed or animal products; the performance of animal production; animal welfare; and environmental health.

####5. What is an antibiotic?

An antibiotic is a drug agent that either kills or inhibits the growth of microorganisms. They play a role in modern agriculture and livestock industries to ensure the health of farmed animals. However, the use of antibiotics in the livestock industry can contribute to the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria or superbugs. Microbial, human and ecosystem health require effective strategies to ensure antibiotic use in animal production does not contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance.

6. What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance arises from the use of antibiotics to treat infections. As a result of normal genetic variation in bacterial populations, individual organisms carry mutations that render antibiotics ineffective. The mutated stain has a survival advantage. If large numbers of bacteria resistant to the antibiotic develop this leads to the development of “superbugs” which threatens effective prevention and treatment of an ever increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi in humans.

7. Are there any alternatives to antibiotics?

Breeder and veterinarian collaboration is essential to adopt good health practices and preventive vaccination plans and preventive hygiene practices; to identify risk factors; analyse health performances data, recognise diseases early; and limit the use drug usage to ill animals only. This positive synergy, increases animal welfare conditions, and helps to reduce drug usage, particularly antibiotics, with a positive influence to farm profitability. For example, feed additives which favourably affect animal performance and welfare, for example probiotics and prebiotics can improve the resistance to pathogenic bacterial colonization and enhance host mucosa immunity. Several studies in farm health or stressed animals have demonstrated how these additives can improve the number of beneficial bacteria and reduce the potential pathogen load.

8. What is zoonoses?

Zoonoses is a disease that can be passed from animals to humans, also known as zoonotic diseases. Animals can carry harmful micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. These can then transfer to humans through direct contact or through food, water and the environment and cause mild to severe illness.

9. What is prevention and biosecurity?

Biosecurity is a strategic and integrated approach that encompasses the policy and regulatory frameworks including instruments and activities for analysing and managing relevant risks to human, animal and plant life and health, and associated risks to the environment. Ensuring that food is safe from zoonotic agents requires prevention and biosecurity measures along the entire food chain, from farm to fork. At primary production level, the farmer is responsible to adopt a proactive approach to animal health, preventing the contamination of the food product with zoonotic hazards.

10. What is HACCP?

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. It is the most widely used risk based tool for food safety management systems. It encompasses seven key principles: (1) Conduct a hazard analysis (2) Determine the Critical Control Points (CCPs) (3) Establish critical limit(s) (4) Establish a system to monitor control of the CCP (5) Establish the corrective action to be taken when monitoring indicates that a particular CCP is not under control (6) Establish procedures for verification to confirm that the HACCP system is working effectively (7) Establish documentation concerning all procedures and records appropriate to these principles and their application

© QUB and Turin
This article is from the free online

Farm to Fork: Sustainable Food Production in a Changing Environment

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now