Being humane to farm animals (welfare) must include (1) having a sound knowledge of their normal and anomalous behavior responses in a farm context and heeding this in a practical way and (2) adopting handling procedures which elicit minimal distress in the species concerned. Building up an ethogram of predictable responses and recording the patterns of behavior during key events, mating, birth, and care of the young are essential. There are still gaps in the recorded ethograms offarm animals. Objective measurements of distress, including an index of its seriousness, are also a priority.
The results from animal preference tests can provide some answers on which to base practical husbandry in the areas of housing design, optimal temperatures, the need for companions, factors which elicit aggression, acceptable feeds, and species' sensory capacities. Handling preference tests could also be undertaken. Overcoming inertia is a problem for both the owners and the animals if changes are to be made within established systems of production.
Gross cruelty can be countered by legislation, but the motivation for ongoing good welfare of farmed animals must come from within the workers/owners on the site. Trying to force it by legislation may be counter-productive. A five-point program for promoting practical animal welfare is outlined.
Kilgour, R. (1985). The definition, current knowledge and implementation of welfare for farm animals—a personal view. In M.W. Fox & L.D. Mickley (Eds.), Advances in animal welfare science 1985/86 (pp. 31-46). Washington, DC: The Humane Society of the United States.