Farmers and ranchers care deeply about their animals and take pride in how they provide for them. Animal safety, health and comfort are common concerns expressed in regards to raising animals for food.
Farmers and ranchers have choices about the best way to raise their animals, including the different types of housing, diet, personal experience, available resources, and overall management practices.
Well-cared-for animals are an important part of a safe and healthy food supply for everyone. That is why farmers and ranchers rely on the guidance of veterinarians and nutritionists when they make decisions about a variety of animal care practices, including housing strategies and the use of healthcare products to decrease disease risk and promote animal health. For example, the decisions farmers and ranchers make to use indoor or free-range methods for housing for their pigs, cattle or poultry are based on a variety of factors, including the animals’ needs, climate, resources available and consumer preference.
However, one thing remains the same no matter what: farmers and ranchers are committed to continuously looking for new ways to improve the methods they use to care for their animals.
Today, farm animals live healthier lives than ever before. Farmers and ranchers have virtually eliminated many former common causes of human foodborne illnesses. For example, pigs raised indoors, a practice that sometimes elevates concerns, has greatly improved safety for the animals, the farmers who raise them and the end consumer. Bottom line: animal welfare is the best it has ever been.
Just like with any industry, there are always ways to improve. Farmers and ranchers are making great strides to ensure their practices are not only the best for their animals’ well-being, but that they are also contributing to a food supply that is as safe and healthy as possible. This means basing practices on peer-reviewed studies as well as implementing generations of practical experience. Additionally, partnerships with veterinarians and nutritionists are critical and a key part of animal care on America’s farms and ranches.
Farmers and ranchers who work with animals on a farm or ranch should be properly trained in best care practices for raising animals. There are animal-specific programs, often funded by farmers and ranchers themselves and endorsed by veterinarians, that offer training to help farmers and ranchers implement these management practices.
While opinions regarding management techniques for animal safety and health can differ, it’s important that all farmers and ranchers work together to communicate to consumers why they have chosen a specific management style for their animals.