Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare

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Understanding animal welfare has become increasingly important to livestock producers in the U.S. and internationally. Recent legislative initiatives in the U.S. and the establishment of global animal welfare standards by the World Organization for Animal Health all indicate that animal welfare concerns will play large roles in determining the future survival and competitiveness of livestock producers. In general, consumers, legislators and activists have expressed concerns regarding the quality of life experienced by agricultural animals. In particular, there is strong public concern that farm animal welfare is compromised as a result of fear, pain, and suffering. The possibility that animals suffer greatly due to excessive fear during interactions with handlers, social disruptions, and exposure to transport conditions is of particular concern. Management practices associated with fear and pain are also viewed very negatively by animal scientists and veterinarians. As a result, several animal welfare certification programs now include assessment of fear levels in their auditing procedures; however, little is known about whether such assessments accurately and reliably measure fear in animals.

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