Animal Welfare & Antibiotics

Key Facts:

  • A 50% growth in livestock production is expected by 2050
  • Over 70% of global antibiotic use takes place in the livestock sector

88 billion animals are slaughtered each year, and the demand for meat and dairy is rising. This surge in demand brings with it issues relating to animal welfare and antibiotics. 

Why is animal welfare important and what are the key problems? 

  • Intensive animal farming allows producers to deliver a lot of meat and animal products quickly and cheaply, but it often means very low standards of animal welfare are maintained. To prevent the spread of infection between animals living in extremely cramped conditions, farmers use antibiotics.
  • Animals living in the stressful conditions created by intensive farming are more likely to pick up infections, so increasing quantities of antibiotics need to be used.  
  • Large scale use of antibiotics can lead to the emergence of superbugs which are resistant to treatment and these can affect humans too.

What needs to change?  

  • Animals need to be farmed in better, less intensive conditions with higher welfare standards. This will reduce the need for antibiotics.  
  • To reduce stress for animals, they should be allowed to practice their normal behaviours and have access to space outside.  
  • Systems for tracking animal health along supply chains should be clear and carefully recorded  
  • Countries should work together to find the best ways to farm animals and manage natural resources. 

Global food systems