Grand Challenge: To optimize animal well-being in a socially acceptable and sustainable manner.
Farm animal welfare is an emotionally charged issue that is based on diverse values and ethics. Many U.S. consumers have increased interest in how agricultural animals are raised. Animal welfare extends beyond the farm to companion animals and exotic zoo animals. To ensure the public that the welfare and humane treatment of animals is a top priority, scientists, educators and animal producers must have a transparent, proactive role in establishing science-based, economically sustainable expectations for animal welfare.
- What animal management practices optimize the well-being of animals, meet consumer demands, and ensure sustainable production of safe, affordable and abundant meat, milk and eggs?
- How can information from genetics, animal behavior, nutrition, physiology and health be integrated to match individual animals with appropriate production systems?
- What methods, management procedures or pharmaceutical tools are needed to assess and alleviate pain in animals?
- Can improvements be made in transportation systems to promote animal well-being?
- What are the best methods to mitigate animal pain before humane harvest or depopulation?
- Management practices that meet consumer demand for safe and affordable meat, milk and eggs, while addressing concerns of animal welfare by the public and policy makers.
- Use of genetic markers to select individual animals for behavioral and welfare traits that allow optimal performance in various production environments, when combined with custom diets, housing and animal health programs.
- Effective pain mitigation strategies that are approved for use in food-producing animals, easy to administer, long-acting, have short withdrawal periods, reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance, are socially acceptable, and can be adopted rapidly by farmers and ranchers.
- Animal transportation systems that promote animal health and well-being, are socially acceptable and are part of a sustainable food production system.
- Safe, effective and socially acceptable methods of euthanasia for individual animals at harvest or when large populations of animals are exposed to infectious agents, thereby forcing depopulation.