Animal board invited review: Improving animal health and welfare in the transition of livestock farming systems: Towards social acceptability and sustainability.

TitleAnimal board invited review: Improving animal health and welfare in the transition of livestock farming systems: Towards social acceptability and sustainability.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsDucrot, C, Barrio, MB, Boissy, A, Charrier, F, Even, S, Mormède, P, Petit, S, van der Laan, M-HPinard-, Schelcher, F, Casabianca, F, Ducos, A, Foucras, G, Guatteo, R, Peyraud, J-L, Vayssier-Taussat, M, Veysset, P, Friggens, NC, Fernandez, X
Date Published2024 Feb 02

The need to integrate more clearly societal expectations on livestock farming has led the authors of this article to consider that livestock farming systems must be redesigned to position health and welfare at the heart of their objectives. This article proposes a vision of the advances in knowledge required at different scales to contribute to this transformation. After defining health and welfare of animals, the article emphasises the need to consider health in a broader perspective, to deepen the question of positive emotional experiences regarding welfare, and raises the question of how to assess these two elements on farms. The positive interactions between health and welfare are presented. Some possible tensions between them are also discussed, in particular when improving welfare by providing a more stimulating and richer environment such as access to outdoor increases the risk of infectious diseases. Jointly improving health and welfare of animals poses a number of questions at various scales, from the animal level to the production chain. At the animal level, the authors highlight the need to explore: the long-term links between better welfare and physiological balance, the role of microbiota, the psycho-neuro-endocrine mechanisms linking positive mental state and health, and the trade-off between the physiological functions of production, reproduction and immunity. At the farm level, in addition to studying the relationships at the group level between welfare, health and production, the paper supports the idea of co-constructing innovative systems with livestock farmers, as well as analysing the cost, acceptability and impact of improved systems on their working conditions and well-being. At the production chain or territory levels, various questions are raised. These include studying the best strategies to improve animal health and welfare while preserving economic viability, the labelling of products and the consumers' willingness to pay, the consequences of heterogeneity in animal traits on the processing of animal products, and the spatial distribution of livestock farming and the organisation of the production and value chain. At the level of the citizen and consumer, one of the challenges is to better inter-relate sanitary and health perspectives on the one hand, and welfare concerns on the other hand. There is also a need to improve citizens' knowledge on livestock farming, and to develop more intense and constructive exchanges between livestock farmers, the livestock industry and citizens. These difficult issues plead for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research involving various scientific disciplines and the different stakeholders, including public policy makers through participatory research.

Alternate JournalAnimal
PubMed ID38452419