Colombia is working to improve animal welfare standards

The four participants from the academic space agreed that there are many things to improve, but given that animal husbandry is an established economic activity in the country, it is hard to believe that businessmen are taking measures to improve the physical conditions and the price of their animals to lower. . .

The conversation took place in the context of the 39th National Livestock Congress: Livestock and Animal Welfare, where four experts in the field, moderated by journalist Óscar Montes Padilla, shared their impressions with those present.

As indicated by the slogan of the event, the interventions of Deyanira Barrero León, Juan Carlos Carrascal, Augusto Beltrán Segrera and Ricardo Mora Quintero, aimed at destroying all the myths and misleading information that have taken place in the collective ideology, placing the livestock and farmers within the group of activities and actors that abuse animals, because of some practices that, in the eyes of inexperienced and animalists, go against “new concepts” that give certain prerogatives to animals.

Deyanira Barrero León, General Director of the Colombian Institute of Agriculture (ICA), recognizes that there are indeed many elements in Colombia that need to be improved in terms of animal welfare. He added that for at least 20 years, the country’s livestock industry has been implementing breeding systems, soil restoration and mechanisms aimed at improving the conditions under which livestock are transported and activities inherent in livestock farming.

“The first thing I want to say is that important work has been done in Colombia on animal welfare for quite some time now. At least on the international issue, the ICA was part of and is a member of the World Organization for Animal Health and there we as a member state voted in favor of the recommendations on this issue and that vote implies a return to the country and starting to work on the dissemination and its implementation,” said Deyanira Barrero León.

In this sense, the senior official warned that the country is following the advice discussed internationally by the organizations responsible for these initiatives, which can be summed up in two very important aspects of livestock: the slaughter and transportation of animals. “Based on this reference, regulations began to be established in the country and procedures were established to implement these international recommendations and guidelines. For example, laws and decrees were promulgated from 2015, and later they also appeared in some resolutions,” explains Deyanira Barrero.

He also assured that this legal and regulatory framework of certain practices is not the only creation of the ICA, since with the creation of the National Animal Welfare Commission, sectors other than the farmer have joined this initiative to draw up guides and recommendations, looking to not only raise their animal handling standards, but also improve the profitability of their businesses; fact that clearly shows the interest of agricultural entrepreneurs in the subject.

For his part, Juan Carlos Carrascal, veterinarian and winner of the International Animal Welfare Award, indicated that, given the difficulty of understanding and its magnitude, it is necessary first to take into account certain factors that determine the methods and forms in which the farm’s actions should be carried out, not only trying to act within the framework of the law, but ultimately also the profitability of the company.

“To talk about animal welfare, one has to start from the fact that this is a very complex, multifaceted issue, where I have to take into account different dimensions: scientific, ethical, political, cultural, religious and geographical. So every country has its reality and that’s where we have to weigh up which international rules apply or need to be adapted to our country, because as Dr. Deyanira explained, the OMSA only makes recommendations and suggestions,” the award read. winning vet.

According to Juan Carlos Carrascal Although animal welfare can be measured by certain data and factors of their behavior, the most important thing in this case is to guarantee the livestock a suitable environment for their proper development and this implies, in addition to the space where they live and eat, the people who deal with it on a daily basis.

These ideas also coincide with those of Augusto Beltrán Segrera, technical secretary of the Price Stabilization Fund (FEP). For about 60 years, the international agreement has set some parameters or requirements for breeders of terrestrial animals, precisely aimed at ensuring welfare.

“The guidelines that lead OMSA on land animal welfare encompass the five freedoms. Pronounced in 1965 and widely recognized, they describe society’s expectations regarding the conditions to which animals are exposed when under human control, that is, free from hunger, thirst and malnutrition; free from fear and anxiety; free from physical and thermal discomfort; free from pain, injury and disease and free to exhibit natural behavior,” says Beltrán Segrera.

Augusto Beltrán reported that in addition to the famous Constitutional Court ruling on which the bill seeking to ban the export of live cattle was structured, the 2009 Lisbon Treaty also assigns animals the category of sentient or sentient beings. that the European Union and its Member States have an ethical responsibility to prevent abuse, pain and suffering.

“The welfare of food-producing animals depends to a large extent on their interaction with humans. There are a number of factors that can affect their welfare, from housing and litter to space and overcrowding, transport conditions, stunning and slaughter methods, male castration and tail docking,” explained the FEP Technical Secretary.

Another intervention was the international advisor Ricardo Mora Quinterowho assured that the silvopastoral systems in which Colombian cattle are raised have been the subject of study and analysis by renowned academics, who have concluded that these methods can bring a certain reputation to the country, necessary for reaching new markets and positioning meat prices .

“In 2010, if I am not mistaken, one of the most renowned animal welfare scientists, Dr. Donald Broom, came to Colombia to see what was being done here. We even took him along the Caribbean coast to visit meat farms and he saw silvopastoral systems for the first time and was fascinated, then he has written more than seven articles about silvopastoral farming and shows how Colombia can achieve two important goals with this system: to be environmentally sustainable, to have access to markets and the third important point: animal welfare,” explains Ricardo Mora.

Finally, all participants agreed that since it is a for-profit activity, It is hard to believe or imagine that Colombian farmers want to mistreat their animals.On the contrary, when they visit the field for exploratory tasks or for academic activities, they come face to face with farmers. They adore their cows, their heifers, their calves, their bulls, and they want the best for them, because it is their capital, the one at stake.

“Livestock is a business and it’s a business that has to be productive and profitable in that sense farmers aren’t going to do anything that goes against that welfare which means their productivity which means the profitability of their farm which means not just the welfare of their animals, but also the well-being of their environmental system,” emphasized the general director of the ICA.

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