Veterinary profession must lead

Veterinary profession must lead on farm animal welfare


New Zealand’s veterinary profession has a leadership role to play in farm animal welfare, including leading informed debate and developing ethical and science based animal welfare standards.

Dr Richard Wild, Veterinarian and Specialist Adviser Animal Welfare at the Ministry for Primary Industries,  talked about the contribution of veterinarians to animal welfare in an increasingly complex and interconnected world at the Pan Pac Veterinary Conference (24-29 May) in Brisbane.

“The importance of farm animal welfare will continue to rise, as people around the world seek assurances that their food is produced in welfare friendly systems. The veterinary profession has a key role to play, in areas such as assurance and verification services, bringing an ethical perspective and a strong evidence base to animal health and welfare.”

“Veterinarians also have responsibilities at both the individual and collective level to show leadership and facilitate debate, helping to inform the public and guiding the evolution of animal welfare standards.”

Dr Wild says that while New Zealand ranked first on animal welfare standards (along with the United Kingdom, Austria and Switzerland) in last year’s global Animal Protection Index “this enviable reputation is hard won and easily lost.”

“That’s why there’s a concerted and coordinated effort in New Zealand, with government, industry and veterinarians working closely together to improve animal welfare outcomes for farm animals and to improve animal welfare compliance and standards.”

His presentation will look at initiatives such as the success of the Fitness for Transport programme, jointly established by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), to improve the welfare of animals transported from farm to slaughter.

He says the NZVA is at the forefront of improving animal welfare, including work to develop ways to better capture data and measure standards of animal welfare.
“This will provide us with the tools and information to make the most needed improvements in managing animal welfare issues.”

The NZVA is also involved in the Government’s Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programmes for the dairy and red meat sectors to lift productivity, profitability, sustainability and animal health. NZVA is an associate member of the Red Meat PGP and is working closely with Dairy NZ and Fonterra on the animal health and welfare aspects of the Dairy PGP.

Dr Wild says New Zealand’s veterinary profession must continue to have a leadership role in animal welfare, which is strengthened not only by its collaboration with government and industry bodies but through collegiality and connections “between veterinarians working in government, for industry and in clinical practice.”

He says that knowledge of animal welfare and societal expectations are expanding greatly throughout the world.
“The veterinary profession needs to give as much priority to animal welfare, as we do to animal health, animal production, medicine and surgery.”

The Pan Pacific Veterinary Conference is a collaboration between the Australian Veterinary Association and the New Zealand Veterinary Association. It is being held at the Brisbane Conference and Exhibition Centre 24-29 May 2015.

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