The role of animal welfare in improving the future of farming

Context: Animal production plays a critical role in many global challenges around sustainability, including climate change and resilience, One Health and food security. With this role comes pressures on livestock welfare. Aims: This paper demonstrates key contributions animal welfare makes to global sustainability challenges. Methods: This paper highlights ‘win–win’ improvements for both animal welfare and other aspects of sustainability by using the following four case studies: tail docking Australian sheep, agroforestry systems in Ethiopia, the Australian dairy-beef industry, and strategic feeding of goats in Pakistan. Key results: These case studies show how animal welfare can be improved alongside livelihoods. However, even in these win–win situations, the adoption of improved practices is not guaranteed. Conclusions: Long-term, sustained change in animal welfare can simultaneously make in roads to other challenges around sustainability. To do this, we must have a broader understanding of the system in which the animals are raised, so that barriers to change can be identified. Implications: Lessons from these case studies can be applied to other production contexts and challenges, highlighting the universal value of understanding and addressing animal welfare.