Animal welfare in livestock production comes in different levels, as determined by the cost, benefit and ethics of each situation.
The cost refers to the expenditure in the way of providing higher welfare compared to lower welfare. For example, a larger roaming space for chickens would incur a cost of fewer eggs laid in total from fewer chickens in the same area that could be occupied by more chickens with less space.
The benefit refers to positive outcomes coming from higher welfare compared with lower welfare. For example, stressful conditions could impact negatively on animal development and the quality of subsequent products derived from them, so providing a higher level of welfare incurs a benefit to the final product.
Ethics refers to the acceptable level of welfare of animals regardless of the cost-benefit analysis. Ethics is about what is acceptable at any cost. Ethics is about what is unacceptable at any benefit. For example, is there a level of animal welfare that is too low to be acceptable under any…