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The College of Animal Welfare

Conformation concerns for vets

BVA calls on vets to help tackle extreme conformation across all species


The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has presented a set of guiding principles and recommendations to support the veterinary profession in tackling extreme conformations in companion and farm animal species.

The position follows increasing concerns among the profession about breeding and conformation-related problems. In BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey last year, breeding and hereditary defects emerged as vets’ top animal welfare concern. Nearly half (45%) of companion animal vets surveyed picked conformational deformities and pedigree breeding, particularly of brachycephalic breeds, among the three welfare issues that concerns them most.

The principles address the responsibility of society, including vets and vet nurses, to work together to:

  • ensure healthier future generations of animals that currently experience extreme conformation
  • reduce the negative health and welfare impacts of extreme conformation
  • increase awareness about these issues across different species
  • encourage research to better understand and address the prevalence of conformation-related ill-health
  • encourage research to better understand and address the prevalence of the welfare impacts resulting from extreme conformation
  • develop objective, robust measures to contribute to the assessment of problematic conformation.

This position also champions the vital role of the veterinary professions in influencing the reduction in the breeding of unhealthy animals with extreme conformation, as well as improving the wellbeing of current generations of animals.

Recommendations presented to achieve this include:

  • Supporting breeders to make responsible breeding decisions
  • Performing corrective surgical procedures and participating in reporting schemes where they exist
  • Monitoring health records and reports, such as abattoir and Food Standards Agency reports, to identify the impact of extreme conformation in livestock

For more information please visit the BVA website.

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