Renowned US dairy welfare expert Prof Jim Reynolds, speaking at a dairy research collaboration event, has said we need to re-think how we approach animal welfare.

At the Agri-EPI Centre’s South West Dairy Development Centre 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.