VEGA News Item

Assessing the Welfare of Dairy Cows - 07/09/2012

In a letter to the Veterinary Record (18 August 2012), Sean Wensley, a Bristol vet, gives a glimmer of hope to support our own urgent concern over the welfare of these animals.

Sean Wensley (BVSc, MSc, Grad.DMS, MRCVS) graduated from Liverpool Vet School in 2003, then obtained a masters degree in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare from Edinburgh Vet School in 2004. After three years working in both companion animal and exotics veterinary practices he joined PDSA as a Senior Veterinary Surgeon of Communication and Education. Sean has contributed to animal welfare and conservation projects in East Africa, China, India, Europe and the Caribbean. He is a member of the Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC) and a committee member of the BVA Ethics and Welfare Group; the BVA Overseas Group and the Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law Veterinary Association (AWSELVA).

In an interview for the Veterinary Record, Sean Wensley says: “A past BVA president advised me that those with a strong interest in animal welfare should act as ‘a thorn in the profession’s side’. I have thought about this at times when I may have hesitated to offer a view.”

Committees abound in the BVA, as in other professional associations, to ginger up some of the bodies that are assessing the welfare issues of dairy cows. But not this body, the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF), especially when ritual slaughter is a hot topic just now, and in which we feel our own voice should be heard: because we represent a body of consumers who have given up meat and dairy in various ways because they are offended by all forms of animal slaughter. However, we have communicated with Sean Wensley to emphasise this point and to represent the scientific opinion on the subject.

We think that the committees of the BVA together with the FAWC (31 members in total), who have responsibility for all aspects of animal welfare, including ritual slaughter, should be expected to answer a questionnaire for publication.

Serious opinion should furnish the following information to the public. Members of BVA committees, like FAWC members, should present their interest by citing their consumption and taking part in:
• food, drink and fish consumption;
• clothing and footwear;
• ‘sports’ (hunting, fishing etc);
in which feasible alternatives exist, that involve a minimum of offensive ill-treatment of animals.


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