Avoiding stress in farms, transport, and slaughterhouses is crucial for ensuring animal well-being, according to experts at the II Congress of Animal Health and Welfare in Córdoba. The congress, organized by the Veterinary College Organization (OCV), also discussed the growing presence of companion animals in Spanish households and its impact on public health.
During the first round table on animal welfare and livestock health, Professor Miguel Ángel Aparicio Tovar highlighted the importance of staff training to ensure proper management that does not generate stress. He also mentioned the European Union’s plans to review certain aspects of livestock animal welfare. However, statistics show that the majority of the Spanish population knows little about animal husbandry systems and is not willing to pay more for food that meets higher animal welfare requirements.
Eva Mainau, a cattle specialist and IRTA researcher, emphasized the need to be vigilant about situations that may cause stress in animals, such as transportation, weaning, or staying away from sick animals. She mentioned that early diagnosis through symptom identification, including observing the position of the ears and facial expressions, is vital.
Emma Fabregas, a swine expert, discussed various factors that can cause stress in animals, including climate, animal density, changes in diet, and lack of cleanliness. She also mentioned that tail tailing has been proven to be an effective strategy against caudophagy (tail biting).
Sara Sacristan from the AEMPS presented the results of the plan to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock, which showed significant declines in all species. The average reduction reached 71% between 2015 and 2018, thanks to the collaboration of all sectors. Sacristan also emphasized the importance of communicating to society that meat and other products do not contain traces of antibiotics.
Romano Montarelli, the secretary of the Italian Ministry of Health, advocated for ethical production in livestock farming and called for greater coordination and strengthening of official veterinary services in the European Union, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Montarelli also expressed concern about the shortage of veterinarians dedicated to production animals.
In the final round table, Francisco Rojo, a professor of Animal Health, highlighted the fact that over half of Spanish households own pets, emphasizing the need to consider this new reality from a public health perspective. María Angeles Risalde, a professor of Pathological Anatomy, explained the different pathogens that affect humans, mammals, birds, or reptiles, including the possibility of species jumps.
Ulises Ameyugo, a Public Health veterinarian of the Government of Andalusia, discussed the regulations governing the operation of slaughterhouses and highlighted the relevance of audits, inspections, and video surveillance systems to ensure animal welfare and fitness for consumption.
In the afternoon, Jaume Fatjó, a veterinarian and ethologist, discussed the emotional bond between humans and companion animals, particularly the value of dogs as a source of social support and indicators of people’s mental and physical health. Rebeca García Pinillos, a promoter of the Welfare concept, emphasized the close relationship between animal welfare and health and the importance of considering both issues together. Stress can disrupt the microbiota, leading to bacterial infections and posing public health risks.
The congress provided valuable insights into the importance of avoiding stress in animals and its impact on their well-being and public health.