On-farm animal welfare

There are numerous different welfare concerns facing farm animals during their time on a farm. While some of these issues can be specific to a particular species, some can be experienced by any farm animal.

a sow feeding piglets in a farrowing crate

We've covered species-specific issues about each farm animal, but here we'll look at the more general issues affecting animals on farms.

Video: Introduction to on-farm welfare issues

Large scale farming

The large-scale farming of animals is a controversial issue. There's often concern that by increasing the size of a farm, the welfare of the animals will inevitably suffer and they'll be viewed as mere commodities.

Animal welfare is particularly concerning where conditions or management aren't good enough. But this is the case for all sizes of farm - large or small. It's not the scale of production that, in itself, has an impact on welfare, but the conditions that the animals are kept in.

Find out more about our position on this issue, and what we're doing to improve the welfare of animals on farms of every size, by reading our guide to large-scale farming.

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

We're worried about the widespread use of antimicrobials, and in particular antibiotics. Some antibiotics are becoming less effective at curing bacterial infections, and this must be addressed to safeguard the health of humans and animals in the future.

We believe that antibiotics should only be used when necessary, and always be used responsibly. Find out more in our guide to antimicrobial resistance.

Read more about farm animal welfare.

Alarming links found between chicken welfare and human antibiotic resistance

Chicken causes 70% of food poisoning cases in the UK. We found concerning research that revealed that:  

  • Faster-growing, lower-welfare birds suffer more than slower-growing, higher-welfare birds when infected with campylobacter, a bacteria.
  • Higher stress levels in chickens cause the bacteria to spread. Putting meat-eaters at a greater risk of contracting the bacterial disease.
  • This common infectious disease is now developing alarming resistance to our vital antibiotics. Effectively putting human health at risk.
  • The bottom line: millions of innocent animals are suffering. While essential human medication becomes less effective.

Campylobacter is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. Raw poultry, beef, offal and other meats - as well as unpasteurised milk - are foods most likely to contain this.

Find out more