Genetics and Breeding

The ASPCA believes farm animals should be free of the welfare problems that have arisen from selective breeding. These include a growth rate and production rate (eggs, milk) that compromise skeletal structure and bone strength; create organ strain; and cause an inability to breed naturally, poor immunity, obesity, heightened rates of immediate and offspring mortality, and chronic pain. For example, modern broiler chickens and turkeys [1] suffer from lameness and heart failure and turkeys can no longer breed naturally. Ongoing and future selective breeding practices must ensure animal welfare is a primary goal for both the breeding animals and their offspring. 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. Until selective breeding concerns are addressed, appropriate housing, food and water protocols must be provided to mitigate the welfare problems caused by unhealthy selective breeding. Birthing cycles must take into account the need for proper rest, recovery, and rejuvenation for female animals. Due to the sheer demand on animals’ bodies, using a more welfare-conscious approach to genetics and breeding helps achieve Freedom From Pain, Injury, and Disease, Freedom From Fear and Distress, as well as Freedom to Express Normal Behavior.