Animal Husbandry Regained
The Place of Farm Animals in Sustainable Agriculture
By John Webster
Foreword by Jonathon Porritt
Routledge – 2013 – 264 pages
The farming of animals for meat and milk confronts a stark dilemma. While world demand from a growing and more affluent human population is increasing rapidly, there are strong counter-arguments that we should eat less meat and pay more attention to environmental protection, animal welfare and human health and well-being.
The aim of this book is to identify and explain the causes and contributors to current problems in animal husbandry, especially those related to 'factory farming', and advance arguments that may contribute to its successful re-orientation. Husbandry is considered in its broadest sense, namely the productive and sustainable use of the land for the good of all (plants, humans and other animals).
The first part of the book outlines principles and arguments necessary to engage with current problems: depletion of natural resources and destruction of environment, animal welfare, food and health, fair trade and sharing resources. These arguments are illustrated by examples and sufficient evidence to justify the argument without obscuring the message. The second part presents a series of constructive proposals for change and development in animal husbandry, both in the developed world and subsistence agriculture. These include more integrated crop and livestock farming systems, the ethics of animal welfare and environmental management, and the evolution of a new social contract whereby the rights of the people to a fair share of good, safe food and a green and pleasant land are matched by a shared responsibility to preserve these things.
"[John Webster] has drawn from his considerable experience and knowledge of animal welfare to present a thought-provoking discussion of future challenges in meeting animal welfare needs … This book will be worthwhile to a general readership and students, but will likely be of greatest importance to those directly involved in the animal production industries" – G. E. Aiken, Independent scholar, Choice
"[John Webster] is someone who has always used his in-depth expertise and forensic analytical skills to build a bigger picture – indeed, a comprehensive and internally consistent worldview. And the three central elements in that worldview (efficiency in the use of resources; humanity in the management of farm animals; sustainability in the stewardship of the living environment) provide the anchor points for the abundance of ‘specific issues’ that John addresses in this text." – Jonathon Porritt, excerpt from the 'Animal Husbandry Regained' foreword
"Both challenging and inspiring, Animal Husbandry Regained is surely John Webster’s magnum opus. Here he makes a convincing and lucid case for placing compassion – for people, animals and the environment – at the heart of global food and farming policy and practice." – Joyce D’Silva, Ambassador for Compassion in World Farming, UK
"A timely and comprehensive book illustrating the central value of animals to agricultural systems and landscapes. Brim full of authoritative analysis and data that tie together the critical issues of justice, efficiency and sustainability in animal husbandry." – Professor Jules Pretty, University of Essex, UK and author of Agri-Culture (2002) and The Earth Only Endures (2007)
"After decades of neglect, the educated public has turned its attention to many problematic aspects of the production of food, particularly food of animal origin. In this scholarly and stimulating book, John Webster treats the reader to the best discussions of animal husbandry, land stewardship, agricultural industrialization and related issues I have ever read, from a seamless perspective of science and ethics." – Bernard E. Rollin, University Distinguished Professor, Professor of Philosophy, of Animal Sciences and of Biomedical Sciences and University Bioethicist, Colorado State University, USA
"John Webster belongs to a rare breed now desperately needed in agriculture – a hands-on scientist and vet who is also a broad thinker; versed in moral philosophy and in the philosophy of science; perceiving, therefore, that good husbandry like all human action must be rooted in compassion; that animals of the kind we keep on farms are sentient, conscious beings, demanding respect; and that rigorous science is vital and yet is limited and cannot be the ultimate arbiter of best practice. In this book he summarizes a lifetime of experience and contemplation. Immensely valuable." – Colin Tudge is co-founder of the Campaign for Real Farming, www. campaignforrealfarming.org, and author of Good Food for Everyone Forever
Part 1: Engaging with the Problems. 1. Whatever Happened to Husbandry? 2. Audits of Animals in Agriculture. 3. Animal Husbandry, Health and Welfare. 4. Food from Animals. 5. Nature’s Social Union: Philosophy, Politics and Economics. Part 2: Embarking on Solutions. 6. Better, Kinder Food. 7. Futures for Animal Science and Technology. 8. Futures for Farm Animals in Planet Husbandry. 9. Animal Husbandry and Society: Substance and Shadows, Carrots and Sticks. Index.
John Webster is Professor Emeritus at the University of Bristol (UK) and a former member of the Animal Health and Welfare Panel of the European Food Safety Agency. As Professor of Animal Husbandry at the University of Bristol Veterinary School, he established a unit for the study of animal welfare and behaviour, now the largest such group in the world. He is author of 'Animal Welfare: A Cool Eye toward Eden' (1993) and 'Animal Welfare: Limping towards Eden' (2005), both Blackwell. He is also co-editor of 'The Meat Crisis' (Earthscan, 2010).