Paul B. Thompson Purdue University

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Animal Ethics

Publish Date: 06/03/2006

Animal husbandry is traditionally understood as a blend of the producer’s self-interest and duties of humane treatment for the animals on which we depend. A livestock operation cannot prosper without healthy and reproductively fit animals, and thus the profitability of a farm has tended to be regarded as a good indicator of well-being for its animals. In some settings, farmers and industry spokespersons alike emphasize the business aspects of animal husbandry, and this has prompted the use of language that likens animals to “profit machines,” and that can seem like livestock are not seen as the living creatures that they are. Yet while profits provide an economic incentive for husbandry, livestock producers have never evaluated animal welfare solely in terms of dollars and cents. Taking proper care of one’s animals has always been understood as an ethical responsibility, as well as a necessary business practice.


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