Dr. Suzanne Millman, Professor of Veterinary Diagnostics and Production Animal Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Iowa State University, commented on the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and their focus on animal welfare. OIE started development of animal welfare standards in 2001. Millman serves on the panel working on the laying hen standards, which are currently out for comment.
Millman highlighted the shift occurring in standards development from input-based requirements (i.e. cage-free housing or space requirements) to outcomes-based standards. She recognized the resourced-based requirement approach has yielded consistency across farms, and is well liked by regulatory bodies and the food industry. However, the outcomes-based standards focus on animal needs and resources used without being prescriptive about how items are achieved (e.g. air quality achieved vs. a required number of air exchanges per timeframe). This can provide more flexibility to the producers.
As a result of this shift in focus, there are still questions that need to be answered through research. Millman highlighted a preference-testing research project in her lab that helps answer questions about hen avoidance of CO2 concentrations. This information can inform best practices for CO2 euthanasia protocols.
OIE’s Global Animal Welfare Strategy, adopted in May of 2017, is “A world where the welfare of animals is respected, promoted and advanced, in ways that complement the pursuit of animal health, human well-being, socio-economic development and environmental sustainability.”