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As a consumer of animal products I am sure that you have wondered whether farmers take good care of their animals. I believe this question relates to a bigger philosophical topic of animal welfare on farms. So why is it important that we be concerned about the well being of animals and how does it relate to sustainability? There are two main reasons farmers care for their animals, both of which I will briefly discuss below.

The first, and the most obvious reason, is that a lot of farmers truly and deeply care for animals, which is often a reason they chose farming as a career. From a sustainability perspective, animal welfare is often emphasized as being a social responsibility of farmers. The main challenge with this is that people have very different perceptions of what this actually means. As I have mentioned, my experience and belief is that most farmers deeply care for animals and do their utmost to ensure that they are cared for and kept healthy.

The second reason why I believe farmers take care of their animals is because their animals are a vital aspect of their business. From a sustainability perspective, the long-term success of farming is reliant on healthy animals, as a farm’s economic success relies on this. Using dairy farming as an example, in order for us to enjoy our milk over our cereal and in our coffee every morning, farmers need to ensure that they have healthy cows productively producing healthy and good quality milk.

Trace & Save helps farmers to assess how well they are caring for the well being of their animals using the five freedoms, developed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (Read more on the five freedoms here). As concerned consumers, who love animals, it is important that we support farmers who address animal welfare in this manner. I, for one, am more inclined to support such farmers, knowing that they take good care of their animals. You should support them too.

Marno Fourie

Marno is a Trace and Save researcher that works on the Woodlands Dairy Sustainability Project and has been part of the team since January 2013. He studied Conservation Ecology at Stellenbosch University. He is passionate about using natural resources in a way that leaves it in a better state for the next generation.

Marno loves the outdoors and to explore new places on his 250cc motorbike, which by the way, is a more eco-friendly mode of transport that generates less carbon emissions than his bantam bakkie. He enjoys good food and company. He also likes to look at natural vegetation in the rough when attempting to play a round of golf.

You can email Marno at or connect with him on social media:
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Marno Fourie