Tuesday, 26 November 2013

'Farmed Salmon – Scotland’s largest agricultural export. But what about their welfare?'

Prof Jimmy Turnbull gave an excellent seminar here at the Vet School recently.   His talk was entitled 'Farmed Salmon – Scotland’s largest agricultural export.  But what about their welfare?'.   Jimmy gave us an overview of the Salmon Industry within Scotland including the production and management systems used, the training of staff in animal welfare, environmental and predation issues and welfare accreditation schemes within the industry. 

He then moved on to discuss many of the welfare issues that are of concern within the industry such as the effects of repeated handling, conspecific aggression, crowding, feeding methods and feed restriction, as well as issues related to disease and at the time of slaughter.  He presented scientific findings in relation to these welfare issues such as whether salmon show preference for shade, and the finding that crowding and feed restriction can lead to increased conspecific aggression.  We also talked about the importance of temperature gradients within the environment in enabling fish to cope better with disease challenges.

Although in animal welfare research, animal based measures are normally recorded at the individual level, we spent quite a bit of time discussing the difficulties of this approach in fish, and that in fish it is more practical to record welfare outcomes at the population level. 

Overall there are lots of challenges facing us in terms of fish welfare – how do we assess preference in fish?, can we measure fish welfare at the individual level?, can we develop robust fish welfare assessment tools?  Lots of food for thought.

The seminar attracted many undergraduate vet students, our MSc students, staff and even those from the Scottish Government.

Many thanks to Jimmy for a stimulating presentation

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