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Vets Concerned about Welfare

by 5m Editor
26 May 2011, at 10:40am

GERMANY - Veterinarians at last week's International Veterinary Congress in Bad Staffelstein expressed their concerns about the consequences for animal welfare of breeding programmes focused only on performance improvements.

At the 30th International Veterinary Congress, the country's federal association of the state veterinarians (Bundesverband der beamteten Tierärtze; BBT) called for greater consideration of health and welfare in animal breeding programmes.

The veterinarians in the public service expressed great concern over the developments in livestock breeding.

The average annual output of a dairy cow is now more than 7,000kg but the productive life of dairy cows has been reduced dramatically because of various health problems, they said. The breeding for larger litters in pigs has led to lower birth weights and more piglets dying after birth. Fattening turkeys can no longer support their own bodyweight and skeletal deformities are common.

The selection of breeding stock has been biased towards production performance, according to BBT. The genetic aspects of health, meanwhile, have been neglected.

The opening address of this year's International Congress tackled this problem and examined whether the limits of performance in farm animals have been achieved or even exceeded.

STC President, Dr Martin Hartmann, commented: "Only a few decades, veterinarians regularly involved in animal husbandry and so could contribute their expertise on animal health. Today, veterinarians have to deal with welfare problems that are the result of a one-sided breeding."

More than 500 participants were expected to attend the conference, where presentations covered all aspects of interest to state veterinarians, in addition to animal welfare topics.