I found week four of Coursera‘s Chicken Behaviour and Welfare course to be a little more interesting, as we discussed animal welfare. As a vegetarian, I am always interested in the welfare of animals, especially my own. A welfare scientist defines animal welfare as “the state of an animal with regards to its ability to cope with its environment.” It was further defined to include the state of harmony between the animals and its environment. Meeting good animal welfare practices can be met by following the Five Freedoms as a guideline. These Five Freedoms are:
- Freedom from hunger or thirst
- Freedom from discomfort
- Freedom from pain, injury or disease
- Freedom to express (most) normal behavior
- Freedom from fear and distress
This week has left me evaluating how my chickens live, and has left me more confident that I am doing a great job providing my chickens with a happy life as they have unlimited access to the outdoors, shelter, food and water, and company. There seems to be a lot of good discussion happening on the discussion boards, and so I want to throw out, that is you have chickens and haven’t checked out the BackYard Chicken forum yet, you should! It is such a valuable resource full of knowledgeable people. I have always received great opinions/stories/advice when posting on there. Lastly, if anyone is looking for a book to read, Ruth Harrison’s Animal Machines was mentioned as a piece that really brought forward the issue of treatment of animals, especially chickens, in farming. It even inspired some big names to go vegetarian/vegan. When I have time to read again (maybe when my son is a teenager?), I’ll check it out!
The final week of the course will be wrapping up this weekend, as I head down to Myrtle Beach for a much needed vacation! I hope everyone else has a chance to travel/unwind/relax this summer! While I have always associated the beach with relaxation in the past, I’m in the mindset that a beach trip with an eight-month-old will be anything but…but one can dream!
PS: Mary, our first broody hen (read about it here!), has finally started laying again! Her first egg was itty-bitty and they’re slowly returning to normal size!