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New FAO publication on the impact of animal nutrition on animal welfare

FAO recently published a report on an expert meeting that took place in September 2011. One of the experts is LowInputBreeds partner Professor Sandra Edwards from Newcastle University.


FAO held an expert meeting to review the impact of animal nutrition on animal
welfare, the results of which have been published in an extensive report. The report is available for download aat the FAO website. 

During the meeting, three major tasks were undertaken for both ruminant and monogastric species:

  1. Identify feeding options for different livestock production systems (extensive, mixed crop-livestock, and intensive) that improve animal welfare while increasing profitability of the livestock producers and ensuring safety and quality through the food chain.
  2. Identify challenges and opportunities to enhance animal welfare through animal feeding approaches.
  3. Draft guidelines and policy options promoting sustainable animal feeding that enhance animal welfare, animal productivity, animal product quality and profitability.

According to the executive summary of the report, in addressing the opportunities and challenges to promote welfare of animals through better nutrition, there is a need for integrated activity from governments, inter-government organizations, professional bodies, scientists, extension workers and industries to support the implementation of good practice by the farmers themselves. In many cases, although not all, nutritional approaches which improve animal welfare will also improve productivity, product quality and hence profitability.

Most importantly, there should be a concerted effort of scientists, politicians, farmers and food-chain industry to develop and validate indicators, in order to allow an international endorsement of specific acceptable minimum welfare standards related to nutrition. Social knowledge about responsible farming practices that consider longevity, long-term performance, and overall life-cycle should be improved.

Showing and promoting the positive relationship between animal welfare and production with respect to good nutritional programmes should be fostered through farm programmes and extension services.

Quote & link

FAO. 2012. Impact of animal nutrition on animal welfare – Expert Consultation 26−30 September 2011 – FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy. Animal Production and Health Report. No. 1. Rome. Available at