Please note dispatches will be slightly delayed due to our distributor's relocation – we apologise for the inconvenience

Animal Welfare Science, Husbandry and Ethics: The Evolving Story of Our Relationship with Farm Animals


Mark Fisher


Animal Welfare has been a subject of intellectual and academic study for a long time. In the past philosophers, thought-leaders and scientists have contributed to the debate, and seismic changes such as the advent of post-war industrial farming have brought about changes in attitudes to the way animals are farmed. Animal welfare as a science and philosophy can be understood as a trajectory through history of our understanding of our relationship with animals, enhanced in recent years through studies into animal behaviour and cognition and societal changes in the way we view animals.

Animal Welfare Science, Husbandry and Ethics charts the history of our understanding of farm animal welfare, throughout time – the human use of animals in different eras, and farming in different systems – seeing the emergence of intensification and science and technology. The book examines the human – non-human animal relationship with a philosophical approach, examining the connections and disconnections between animals and people, and charts the beliefs and motives of different philosophers, theories and movements in animal welfare from early history to the present. The book also looks at our current animal welfare systems, examining what is working and what isn’t, the pathway to how we got here, and looks at future considerations for animal welfare putting forward the author’s thoughts on achieving a sustainable animal welfare model.

Intended for animal welfare students, teachers, researchers and academic libraries, Animal Welfare Science, Husbandry and Ethics introduces a complex subject requiring an understanding of the underlying factors and drivers of human behaviour and farming systems. Only by acknowledging the complexity, and understanding the factors contributing to that complexity, can we hope to develop an equitable and sustainable animal welfare for the future.




  1. The simplicity and complexity of animal welfare
  2. Drawing on the wealth of agriculture
  3. High farming and hard work
  4. Husbandry from beyond the farm gate
  5. People are people through animals
  6. Thinking like a mountain
  7. The fall and rise of the hunter-gatherer


Additional information

ISBN 9781789180084
Product type PB
Publication date 14-Dec-18
Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Product options

eBook (ePub), eBook (pdf), Print version

8 reviews for Animal Welfare Science, Husbandry and Ethics: The Evolving Story of Our Relationship with Farm Animals

  1. Cathy Dwyer for Animal Welfare

    This will be an important resource for those working in agriculture and food policy, as much as for animal welfare.

  2. Mat Stone

    ‘I found it a marvellous read, the central thesis profoundly compelling, and the exploration of ideas through examples very well developed.’ – Mat Stone

  3. Stanley Johnson, author of Where the Wild Things Were (2003)

    This is a very important book and deserves to be widely read

  4. Professor Peter Sandøe, University of Copenhagen, co-author of Ethics of Animal Use (2015)

    Mark Fisher has written an impressive and important book about the relation of humans to farm animals and about our collective responsibility to improve farm animal welfare. The book is impressive because of the breath of scholarship, including biology, animal science, history, social science, philosophy, literature and art, that it draws on and shares with its readers. It is important because it insists on seeing farm animal production as something that defines us as humans and that can and should be maintained for the mutual benefit of both us and the farm animals. However, Dr Fisher argues that there is an urgent need for the rest of society to reconnect with farm animals and to be willing to pay the farmers to be able to break out of the vicious circle of increasing productivity, lower costs and dwindling standards of animal welfare. Following previous revolutions in our relation to nature and food, Mark Fisher calls for a new revolution focusing on people and their relation to animals.

  5. Professor Bernard E. Rollin, Colorado State University, author of Animal Rights and Human Morality (1981)

    Were I asked to recommend a single volume introducing an intelligent reader to the complexities and problems inherent in modern animal agriculture, and particularly farm animal welfare, I would unhesitatingly choose Mark Fisher’s new book, Animal Welfare Science, Husbandry and Ethics. In 300 highly readable pages, the book delivers on the promise enunciated in its title. In addition, the book also provides an important precis of the history of agriculture, a field regarding which most educated people display abysmal ignorance. Fisher clearly expresses the inherent complexities involved in balancing animal welfare (a concept discussed at length); increased productivity; ethics; economics; and even the myths serving as an unavoidable background for policy. In addition, the book is replete with vivid illustrations, both verbal and pictorial, that serve to make this book thoroughly engaging to readers. As himself a person raised in the ethics of husbandry, Fisher breathes life into what could be, in the hands of a lesser thinker, bereft of interest to an ordinary reader. The final chapters forcefully drive home the extent to which, as Temple Grandin has put it, ‘animals make us human’, i.e. the unnoticed degree to which we depend on animals for products aside from food, as well as for the raw material of our thought patterns. Anyone expecting a straightforward simplistic solution to the problems raised by Fisher will be disappointed by the final chapter. Like Aldo Leopold, Fisher believes that what is required is nothing less than a new view of our relationship to the natural world. While some may reject this unexpected conclusion, all will benefit from consideration of the arguments advanced.

  6. Rosamund Young, author of The Secret Life of Cows (2003)

    Don’t be deterred by the introduction which sets out the scope of this work and feels a little daunting. This is a wide-ranging, thought provoking and important book. Two sentences stood out for me, indicating the true depth of understanding the author has: page 19: ‘It is the animal’s point of view that is important, so how do we understand that?’ And page 30: ‘Because our worlds are complex and our roles relatively specialized, few of us understand the farming anymore.’ Both these sentences are central to the issue and cannot be over-stated. I sincerely hope this book is widely read by the public and policy makers.

  7. Professor Jules Pretty, University of Essex, author of The East Country (2017)

    This is an important and insightful book exploring the inseparable worlds of animals and humans. Human cultures have evolved alongside animals across all agroecosystems over thousands of years. This fascinating account critically evaluates these relationships, showing that good and bad rarely fall into clear categories, and points to the pressing need for both sustainable and ethical forms of livestock rearing on all the worlds farms.

  8. Jeannette Beranger, The Livestock Conservancy, co-author of Managing Breeds for a Secure Future (2016)

    Mark eloquently lays out the complexities of man’s history and relationship with animals and clearly demonstrates that without an understanding of this, the modern debate on animal welfare is effectively incomplete.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *