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Genetics and Breeding

The ASPCA believes that farm animals should be free of the welfare problems that have arisen from selective breeding, and that are detrimental to, the animals’ overall health and well-being. These include a growth rate that compromises skeletal structure and organs, an inability to breed naturally, heart failure, lameness, obesity, heightened mortality rates and chronic pain. Ongoing and future selective breeding practices must ensure animal welfare is a primary goal. Appropriate housing, food and water protocols must be provided to mitigate the welfare needs of animals until selective breeding concerns have been addressed. Special consideration should be given to the lives of breeding animals, for whom many of these genetically-based welfare problems are more pronounced in part because they are allowed to live longer.

Pig Breeding and Genetics –Genetic strains commonly used to breed pigs for factory-like industrial farms have been selected for traits that leave some prone to behavioral problems, orthopedic problems and fatigue. Only those types of pigs capable of robust welfare should be raised. In the meantime, housing and handling conditions that mitigate, to the fullest extent possible, all genetically-based welfare problems should be employed.

Poultry Breeding and Genetics – Many welfare problems stem from selectively breeding birds for specific traits such as rapid growth and weight gain. Excessive growth rate leads to lameness, heart problems, chronic leg pain and high rates of morbidity and mortality. These problematic genetics practices should be eliminated. Until that time, husbandry practices including proper housing and handling should be used to mitigate the compromised welfare of selectively bred birds.