A balanced perspective on animal welfare for improved meat and meat products
Increased public concern for animal welfare in the logistics chain has led to a rise in the scrutiny of the treatment of food animals. Factors affecting the status of welfare of slaughter animals begin at the farm and occur during transportation and at the abattoir. The activities that animals pass through before slaughter are thought to have negative effects on both the animal and the product. Before or during this period, animals suffer pain, which compromises their physical, health and biochemical status, and meat quality and quantity; which leads to economic losses. Environmental impact plays a role in the behaviour, growth, development and welfare of animals, even though it is associated with the production of greenhouse gases and biodiversity. Food producers are also mindful of the challenges of feeding the ever-increasing human population. Although the issues of animal production, which range from the environment to human health, have been discussed, animal welfare-related factors that are at play in the production chain of farm animals must still be addressed. An understanding of the animal’s environment, behaviour and the biochemical interactions that are at play in stressful conditions; and the implications of these for animal health and welfare are key to developing effective mitigation strategies. Therefore, the objective of this review is to highlight the literature on animal welfare, and suggest strategies that could be adopted for the improvement of meat animals, meat quality and meat products.
Keywords: Avoidance behaviour, climate change, biotechnology, genetic modification, stress biomarkers, road transportation