Book review: The Biology and Management of Animal Welfare

A new book is telling us to think again when we are dealing with wild and farmed animals.

Working for the Wildlife Trust, we come across the extremes of animal rights and wrongs.

We can get caught in the crossfire when it comes to management of creatures but the vast majority of our work involves creating ideal habitats for the region’s vast array of wildlife.

There is an old argument that you have to be cruel to be kind, but a new book is telling us to think again when we are dealing with wild and farmed animals.

Group walk by Zsuzsanna Bird

Group walk by Zsuzsanna Bird

The Biology and Management of Animal Welfare by Frauke Ohl and Rory Putman (Whittle Publishing) takes issue with the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare. They propose that animals are kept free from:

  • Hunger, thirst or inadequate food 
  • Thermal and physical discomfort
  • Injuries or diseases
  • Fear and chronic stress
  • Are free to display normal, species specific behavioural patterns

All these Freedoms presume that all animals are sentient beings and we need to ensure their mental as well as their physical well-being is taken into account.

This is interesting for conservationists who strive to ensure habitats are as normal and stress-free as possible for animals and the humans who visit our reserves.

A pied flycatcher sitting on a tree branch in a woodland

Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

The authors point out that, “Attitudes to animals vary tremendously within the Western World”, but they refuse to comment on people’s religious and political views while stressing it is the obligation of human beings to look after the welfare of animals.

Both authors are experts in the field of Animal Welfare and, obviously, realise this book is pushing the boundaries in the eyes of the vast majority of people. Many will think it goes too far.

I found the book thought-provoking with excellent examples of why we need to look at animal welfare from the point of view of the animals.

The Biology and Management of Animal Welfare can be ordered from www.whittlespublishing.com.