Within two years, 2018 – 2020 1.4 million EU citizens signed a petition to end the caging of farm animals. As a result, the European Parliament initiated a study conducted by Utrecht University researchers to study how to accomplish this goal.
The research included behavioral biologists, animal scientists, veterinarians and ethicists. Their main focus was on laying hens and pigs. However, they will look into other animals such as bovines used for milk and meat. In order to accomplish their goal to eliminate cages, the researchers must find a way to assist farmers in transitioning from traditional animal housing to more humane housing.
I personally hope that they can reach this goal and that it will spread to the rest of the world. When I raised chickens, they were always free-ranged and had a hen house to stay in at night.
Professor Shiri Navon-Venezia of Ariel University, Ariel, Israel and colleagues conducted a study to see if there is a risk of infection to both humans and animals. “Extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) and AmpC-producing Enterobacteriaceae (AmpC-E), which are resistant to a number of commonly used antibiotics, have become a matter of great concern in both human and veterinary medicine, so understanding the likelihood of them colonising the animals is critical to evaluating the risk that may be posed to visitors.”
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The researchers also found that if an animal was treated with antibiotics it was seven times more likely to shed MDR bacteria.
Petting zoos are important for educational purposes as well as bringing happiness to both adults and children. However, it is important that petting zoos provide hand washing stations. People who go to petting zoos should wash their hands before and after interacting with the animals.
While this study focused on petting zoos, the same rules should apply to fairs where livestock is housed for show and competition. Many people pet the livestock or walk near their stalls. It is important to note that some of the bacteria comes from the animal droppings, so care should be taken to clean the bottom of shoes before you enter your car or home. If you wear flipflops or another type of open shoe such as a sandal, it would be wise to wash your feet as well. This is critical if you own pets.
If young children are allowed to interact with animals, be careful that they do not put their hands on their faces, in their mouth or handle food before washing thoroughly.
Dr. Alan McElligott led a study at Queen Mary University of London that determined goats react to human facial expressions. Dr. McElligott found that goats prefer smiling or happy faces to ones that were angry. The study also showed that they also use the left hemisphere of their brains to process emotions.
Previous studies have shown that dogs, cats and horses and many other animals also recognize facial expressions in humans and react to them accordingly. With each study we learn more about the animal kingdom and how alike in many ways all animals are.
According to research by the scientists at the University of Nottingham, there has been a 50% reduction in male fertility globally, for both humans and dogs. The study shows that there are two causes. One is DEHP a common plasticizer which is found in carpets, flooring, upholstery, clothes, wires and toys as well as the industrial chemical polychlorinated biphenyl 153 (PCB). Although it has been banned world-wide, it is still found in the environment, including in food.
Another study shows that most of PCB 153 (90%) is ingested through food. The foods likely to have it are, fish and fish products, including fish oils which have the highest amount. Next are milk, eggs and dairy products and meat and meat products.
Another report has shown that foxes and deer also have the PCB’s and DEHP in their bodies. How did they get them? If wildlife has been exposed to PCB’s what about other animals such as cattle, horses, pigs, chickens, etc.?
At the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollution (POP), PCBs were classified as POP’s and precipitating countries agreed to ban all production of PCB’s and to eliminate them by 2025. But that does not help us today or those exposed previously.
What comes to mind for me are the “editable” products that are sold as a way to clean your dog’s teeth. Most do not advertise that they are 100% digestible. What are the non-digestible ingredients? Are they plastic or some similar product?
Many dog toys are made of plastic. How does this fit into the picture? What about other chew toys made for dogs? Do they contain PCB’s and other harmful ingredients? These are all things to consider.
This is important information for the dog breeder who may experience a problem with the male dogs in their breeding program. It could be the answer as to why.
The good news is that scientists are working on a solution to solve the drop in male fertility rate and both dogs and humans will benefit from it.
Although Dr Alan McElligott is currently based at the University of Roehampton, he led the study at Queen Mary University of London to determine if goats react to human facial expressions. He found that goats would rather interact with people who smile and are happy. The study further showed that goats use the left hemisphere of their brain to react to positive facial expressions.
Anyone who works with goats recognizes that they are very attuned to human body language, but this study shows that goats recognize facial expressions and the emotions that they represent. Past studies have shown that dogs, birds and horses also have this ability.
Goats, horses, birds and dogs represent a wide spectrum of the animal kingdom. It stands to reason that many other animals, both domestic and wild have the same abilities to some degree. The challenge is to devise a way to test a wider range of animals and birds. It is exciting to be able to understand more about the animals that we love and anticipate what future studies will teach us.