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Immunology as Applied to Farm Animal Welfare: General Principles and Interventions

Ajit Singh


Animal welfare is a state of animal’s well-being as indicated by scientific evidence and preferably quantifiable read-out of its health, nourishment, behavior and living conditions. Farm animals are reared for food and other purposes in different production systems. Farm animal welfare, particularly in intensive production systems, is an emerging concern of society at large, consumers of farm animal-source food in particular. Changing climate and weather patterns, intensive crop-farming and high-density production systems are causing increased incidence of infectious diseases, stress-induced disorders and change in innate behavior, thereby also adversely impacting animal welfare on-farm. Intervention systems are required for ensuring and improving animal welfare on-farm and to develop ‘welfare quality-certified’ farm animal-source foods. Quantifiable markers are required to assess animal welfare and determine the need for its enrichment. OIE adopted in 2013 scientific evidence-based general principles to guide development of animal welfare standards for different production systems. Among these principles are prevention and control of diseases and parasites, prevention and management of pain or other stressors, and genetic selection of animals for disease-resistance and other fitness traits, which contribute to welfare through immune system-informed approaches, called immunological interventions. These approaches employ immunobiologicals, nutraceuticals, drugs, and other tools and technologies to achieve immune system-mediated beneficial outcomes in farm animals. Recent welfare-driven research has given impetus for discovery of immunological markers of health, production and fitness, with an ultimate aim to develop welfare standards for different farm animal species. Immunology as applied to farm animal welfare is briefly reviewed.


Keywords: Farm animal welfare, immunology, general principles, immunological interventions


Cite this Article

Ajit Singh. Immunology as Applied to Farm Animal Welfare: General Principles and Interventions. Research & Reviews: A Journal of Immunology. 2018; 8(1): 1–13p.

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