Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

Animal welfare and climate change: impacts, adaptations, mitigation and risks. - AW0513

Description
Climate change has become an important economic, political and social issue in recent years. Publications from UKCIP (2009) and the MetOffice predict that average summer temperatures will rise by up to 9°C by 2080, with lower rainfall in the summer and increased rain in the winter. There may be an increased frequency of ‘extreme weather events’ (periods in which temperature or rainfall significantly exceed the seasonal average). Animal welfare can be seriously affected by such climatic conditions, both directly and indirectly. Direct effects are seen at the level of the individual, such as when the climatic conditions exceed the thresholds that allow the animal to thermoregulate adequately, either to keep cool when temperatures are high or warm enough if exposed to rain or wind storms. There are also more indirect effects of climate on welfare that act through the availability of grazing and of land to produce crops for animals feeds. For the UK, some species may benefit from these changes, such as from an increase in spring temperatures for animals giving birth outdoors. There may also be adverse effects of high rainfall or extreme temperatures to animals exposed to these conditions, either outdoors, or in transport vehicles, lairage or housing without adequate cliamtic control.

There are other influences to take into account. The UK has pledged to significantly reduce its output of harmful emissions, so a number of mitigation initiatives have been initiated or are planned. These may have effects on animal welfare directly or indirectly. For instance, a plan to reduce livestock emissions by reducing disease and thereby improving efficiency, will have a positive effect on welfare, whereas improving efficiency by using a more intensity method of production may have a negative effect. These cases where aspirations to improve welfare are in conflict with aspirations to reduce emissions should be highlighted so that possible alternatives can be considered or the costs and benefits can be weighed up.

The aim of this project is to review the literature to assess the impacts of climate change on animal welfare. An inventory of the adaptations that are being successfully being used or are possible will be made. We will also assess the implications for welfare of the current or proposed mitigation strategies, and highlight any conflicts or trade-offs that become apparent. This will allow knowledge gaps to be identified. The current animal welfare policies and welfare Codes will be reviewed to determine whether any alterations are needed. On-going government projects will be reviewed to identify those where a coordinated approach or a animal welfare perspective is needed. A qualitative analysis of the magnitude, likelihood and urgency of climate change impacts will be made to highlight the issues that need attention.

To achieve this, our specific objectives are:
1) To make a systematic review of published and grey literature to assess the impacts of climate change on intensively managed and extensively managed species, considering the whole production chain, and including disease threats and transportation. As part of this process, current and possible adaptations will be identified.
2) Review current and planned mitigation initiatives from the UK and the EU to identify potential effects on animal welfare.
3) Integrate impacts, adaptations and mitigation for each species (or species group), and identify trade-offs.
4) Make a qualitative analysis of impacts, to assess magnitude, likelihood and urgency of major impacts to determine which are of high priority for action.
5) Identify knowledge gaps and review on-going government funded projects to identify where collaboration may be beneficial.
6) Review the current animal welfare policies, Defra animal welfare codes and recommendation literature to identify if and where change is needed.


SAC is well placed to carry out this project. We have completed a number of projects in the area of climate change (including AC0307 'Climate change impacts on the livestock sector') and there are a number of current Defra- and EU-funded projects investigating climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. SAC also has a substantial animal welfare research team, many of whom have interests in climatic effects on animal welfare. This expertise will be used to the benefit of this proposed project. A dedicated review writer will be appointed, and the relevant staff will provide direct input on what the areas of concern are, provide basic 'start-up' literature, comment on outputs, provide expertise in the legislation, on the current mitigation initiatives and participate in the impact analysis. The outputs will be a comprehensive review of impacts, adaptations, the effects of mitigation policies and a priority list for action.
Objective
1) To make a systematic review of published and grey literature to assess the impacts of climate change on intensively managed and extensively managed species. The whole production chain will be considered, as well as overall effects such as disease threats and transportation. This will include a review of:
a) Impacts of climate change on welfare
b) Adaptations made to these impacts to date, and any that are planned.

2) Review current and planned mitigation initiatives from the UK and the EU to identify potential effects on animal welfare

3) Integrate impacts, adaptations and mitigation for each species (or species group), and identify trade-offs.

4) Make a qualitative analysis of impacts, to assess magnitude, likelihood and urgency of major impacts to determine which are of high priority for action.

5) Identify knowledge gaps and review on-going government funded projects to identify where collaboration may be beneficial.

6) Review the current animal welfare policies, Defra animal welfare codes and recommendation literature to identify if and where change is needed.
Project Documents
• EVID4 - Final project report : AW0513 final report   (403k)
• ANX - Annex : AW0513 Appendix 1   (282k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2011

To: 2011

Cost: £37,363
Contractor / Funded Organisations
SAC Commercial Ltd
Keywords
Animal Welfare              
Climate Change              
Livestock              
On-Farm              
Plants and Animals              
Review              
Transport              
Fields of Study
Animal Welfare