An ancestral and foundational relationship
Since the dawn of humanity, humans have learned to live in close contact with animals. A very strong feeling has arisen from this long cohabitation, one that goes far beyond their exploitation or use. Whether we look at archeology, ethnology, mythology, literature, or art, we see that this feeling, forged from childhood, is steeped in fascination, affection and fear. This explains the major role that animals have in our imagination. They participate in the construction of our identities and consequently in the equilibrium of our societies.
The concept of animal welfare is a difficult one to grasp
Should we talk about well-being, or of “‘well-treatment”’? Moreover, by using the word animal in the singular, we group all animals into the same category. But our relationships with them are very different. In these conditions, how can this concept be expressed in the field? On what basis? Using what criteria?
“The concept of well-being does pose major problems, first of all technically because what we are measuring today is the absence of unwell-being. As far as I’m concerned - though there must be many here who feel the same - there are lots of times when I’m not exactly unwell, but I’m not entirely sure that I’m well either. “
“ Good measures and proper conduct already consist in making distinctions; they mean realizing that we have different duties toward animals, who live in a different way, whether at our service, or for our emotional exchanges, or because they are part of our environment, which we need to protect.“
The extreme media attention given to animal welfare issues may sometimes give rise to shortcuts in reasoning that may be both unfounded and prejudicial, such as those that assert that animal welfare is incompatible with large-scale farming.
The production requirements of farming operations do not clash with respect for animals. And the size of farming operations does not predetermine the quality of care, which depends first and foremost on the animal farming practices implemented. Its evaluation must then be made in the field, on the basis of sound animal indicators: the good health of the animal, its ability to express ecological needs, - needs that differ greatly from one species to another.
“ To say that a cow needs to graze and go out is true. To say that a pig does not need to go out is also true. A pig does not have the same needs as a cow. “
The issue of animal welfare is set in a social context, which is very paradoxical.
The vast majority of the population is sensitive to it. Better animal welfare, on the other hand, has a cost attached to it that consumers must be ready to pay. And we live in a world where more than 800 million people have far from enough to eat...
91% of respondents interviewed feel concerned about animal welfare.
Survey carried out on France sponsored by Ceva Animal Health in 2016.
“ We discussed animal welfare, and, quite fortunately, talked about the well-being of producers as well. The two are bound together .... By the continual pressure to reduce prices ... we, for sure, put in peril farmer producers , their survival, and also put in peril animal welfare.“