Sustainable Agriculture and Humane Livestock Systems

Raising food animals under different production systems has significant yet distinct impacts on the health and welfare of livestock, the environment and the farm economy. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of these systems for the animals and the environment and identifying ways in which systems can be made more humane and sustainable requires the integration of science with policy. For example, the development of appropriate animal care standards by industry or government requires scientific research comparing the impacts of different types of housing, veterinary care and handling on animal preferences and associated health outcomes. This area of research will become even more critical as consumers debate the merits of organic versus conventional and small-scale, local versus large-scale production, and seek evidence to support their purchasing decisions.

In collaboration with faculty and students from the Friedman School's program in Agriculture, Food and the Environment, CAPP faculty and students evaluate animal health and welfare and environmental outcomes across a range of production systems, assess consumer perceptions and adoption of humanely raised products, and consider the role of government policy in supporting sustainable livestock systems. Past and current applied research projects include:

  • Assessment of organic and conventional health and welfare science and domestic and international livestock standards.
  • Development of humanely raised veal, egg, lamb and pork production methods and marketing approach for New England family farmers.
  • Evaluation of federal farm conservation policies and their success in addressing environmental concerns associated with pasture-based livestock production.

A list of student projects in this research area can be found on the Sustainable Agriculture and Humane Livestock Systems Student Projects page.