Our Archives: animal welfare

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Will the new Agriculture law hurt animal welfare post-Brexit?

Yesterday - 12th October 2020 - MPs in the UK voted to approve the new Agriculture Bill. This law will set out the framework for a wide range of matters related to British agriculture as the UK leaves the European Union at the end of the year. However, the bill has been really controversial, and the House of Lords actually sent it back to the Commons to be reconsidered before this crucial vote. So what’s the fuss about?

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What do I need to consider when I dress up my dog for Halloween?

Welcome (with a sinister witches laugh) to a controversial discussion that divides even the veterinary world. Brexit, my friends, is nothing compared to this! Within an hour of my bosses sending this possible blog topic to my inbox, two features had arrived on my social media feeds from different veterinary groups. One showed commercial pet Halloween costumes being deliberately set on fire. Some didn't burn but others did; one in particular was dripping hot plastic. The take home message was that purpose-sold dog costumes are unregulated and many can prove dangerous. The other piece was from a local vets, launching a social media Halloween fancy dress competition. So. What’s an owner to do?
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How clever is your dog? A literature review sums up the evidence and if dogs were clever enough to understand, they wouldn’t be happy

A literature review carried out by researchers at the University of Exeter has reached a conclusion that may upset millions of pet owners: the combination of many different studies of animal intelligence suggest that dogs are no smarter than many other animals. You may think your pooch understands every word you say, you may believe that Rover knows exactly what is going on around him, and you may like to think that when he looks at you with his head cocked, that he has the intellectual ability of a super-smart mammal. The truth? He may be no smarter than a pigeon.
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It is not “fake news” to call for animal sentience to be included in post-Brexit UK legislation

Who would have thought that “animal sentience” would cause a national political ripple? That’s exactly what has happened recently, as I described in a recent blog post.
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Mega farms: does our society really want animal production on this industrial scale?

The latest campaign by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), highlights the rise of so-called “mega-farms”. There is no formal definition of a mega farm, but in the USA, “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations” (CAFOs) are defined as those housing 125,000 broiler chickens, 82,000 laying hens, 2,500 pigs or 700 dairy or 1,000 beef cattle. In the UK, special permits are needed if they house more than 40,000 chickens, 2,000 pigs or 750 breeding sows. The term “mega farm” seems like appropriate terminology. There are now 789 mega farms in the UK, and the CIWF online map allows you to see if there’s one near you.
The wording on the website is eye-catching:
Around 70% of farm animals in the UK are kept in factory farms, where they spend their lives in overcrowded barns or cages. Factory farming has spread across the country to satisfy our appetite for cheap meat, dairy, and eggs, at great cost to animal welfare, human health, and the environment. Follow this link to see how much chicken, pig, and dairy factory farming there is where you live.”
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BBC’s Trust Me I’m A Vet – informative educational television let down by poor scientific technique

The first series of Trust Me I'm A Vet on BBC2 was anticipated with hopeful curiosity by vets and pet owners. With the BBC's reputation for good quality science, and the direct input of vets in practice working closely the UK veterinary schools, this was an exciting opportunity to spread good quality information about pets and veterinary science. This type of prime time public education has the potential to make a serious difference to people's knowledge about animals and so consequently to improve the quality of care that pets get from their owners. So after the three episodes that made up the first series, did the programme live up to expectations?
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