Speaking at Agri-EPI’s Centre’s South West Dairy Development Centre, renowned US dairy welfare expert Prof Jim Reynolds said we need to re-think how we approach animal welfare.

At the dairy research collaboration event at the site in Somerset, the Professor said there must be a move away from thinking of farm animal ‘health’ and ‘welfare’ as separate issues.

He advised that high welfare, achieved by being compassionate to the mental and physical condition of animals, must be regarded by all in the farming industry as being at the forefront of animal health.

Dr. Reynolds said: “If we are going to use animals for purposes, we must provide them with good lives. This involves considering if the animal has positive emotions – is happy - or if the animal is anxious, afraid or in pain.

"The science of animal welfare has progressed from focusing on reducing bad things that happen to animals to including what is necessary for an animal to have a good life.

“Providing animals with ‘good’ things such as clean, dry, and comfortable housing, also reduces the ‘bad’ things, such as disease and decreased production. We therefore need to bring the approach to animal ‘health’ and ‘welfare’ back together and build this into the cost of production.”

Professor Reynolds stressed the importance of collaboration across research and industry to address welfare issues, a message which chimed with the participating researchers, vets and farmers.

Matt Dobbs, Agri EPI board member said: “Agri EPI was pleased to host the leading dairy researchers from across the UK at our new state of the art Dairy Development Centre in Somerset.

"With a keynote speaker passionate about animal welfare and the backdrop of the new welfare focused Dairy Centre to stimulate discussion, we were delighted that the group committed to continue collaborating to further enhance the UK’s leading reputation for farm animal welfare. Key to the future will be the application of technology and the group agreed to focus on early detection of farm health and welfare issues.”