How to Consider the Value of Farm Animals in Breeding Goals. A Review of Current Status and Future Challenges

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 24 (4):309-330 (2011)
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Abstract

The objective of this paper is to outline challenges associated with the inclusion of welfare issues in breeding goals for farm animals and to review the currently available methodologies and discuss their potential advantages and limitations to address these challenges. The methodology for weighing production traits with respect to cost efficiency and market prices are well developed and implemented in animal breeding goals. However, these methods are inadequate in terms of assessing proper values of traits with social and ethical values such as animal welfare, because such values are unlikely to be readily available from the product prices and costs in the market. Defining breeding goals that take animal welfare and ethical concerns into account, therefore, requires new approaches. In this paper we suggest a framework and an approach for defining breeding goals, including animal welfare. The definition of breeding goals including values related to animal welfare requires a multidisciplinary approach with a combination of different methods such as profit equations, stated preference techniques, and selection index theory. In addition, a participatory approach involving different stakeholders such as breeding organizations, food authorities, farmers, and animal welfare organizations should be applied. We conclude that even though these methods provide the necessary tools for considering welfare issues in the breeding goal, the practical application of these methods is yet to be achieved

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