Vets have a key part to play in bringing about a food farming revolution that could end the suffering of billions of factory farm animals globally.
Compassion In World Farming (CIWF) chief executive Philip Lymbery wants to see a “systemic change“ in the way farm animals are kept and believes the veterinary community has a vital role to play in setting society “on a new course“ in the way it deals with them.
This would see animals moved away from factory farm settings to those that enhance welfare, wellness and afford them opportunity to express natural behaviour.
Mr Lymbery said: “The veterinary community can play a strong leadership role in bringing about a food and farming revolution based on farm animals being kept in conditions that respect their natural behaviours, and give them the fresh air and freedom the British landscape is richly able to provide.
“It makes absolute sense, in terms of animal health and welfare, to move away from cages, crates and confinement, toward systems that better respect the natural behaviours, wants and needs of the animals, and rely less heavily on veterinary inputs.
“Veterinarians getting behind moves away from factory farming could be crucial.”
Mr Lymbery argues that animals kept in higher welfare conditions are less stressed and less prone to disease, which subsequently means they get sick less often.
“That has got to be good news if we are thinking, as a profession, about the patient rather than the customer,” he said.
Such a scenario would not only benefit animals in terms of welfare, but also afford vets the opportunity to redefine their role in the care process.
He said: “We could look to a future where vets are seen much more fulsomely in terms of animal carers – and helping them as patients – rather than, as often happens at the moment, servicing their customers… by routinely treating diseases that could be avoided using better systems.
“I would like to see vets promoting truly high welfare, which is more than the absence of suffering. It should also allow animals to enjoy positive experiences, to experience the joy of life.“