The Ethics of Farming Flightless Birds

  • G. Tulloch
  • C. J. C. Phillips
Part of the Animal Welfare book series (AWNS, volume 11)


The ethics, or morality, of farming a relatively novel and undomesticated group of animals, the ratites, is considered. Ethical considerations for animal management centre on their right to life, bodily health and integrity, opportunity to use their senses and emotions, to have affiliations with conspecifics and be part of a worldwide species network, to play and to have control over one’s environment. Ratites are considered to present greater ethical problems compared to conventional animal farming because of their inherent unsuitability for farming for meat and other products and their limited level of domestication. This unsuitability arises principally from their large size, slow maturation and limited social structure relative to other farmed birds. The absence of a domestication influence to reduce aggression and flight distance means that they have a significant potential to inflict damage on themselves, their handlers and conspecifics. Bodily mutilations, such as declawing may mitigate damage to others, but is ethically questionable because of potential welfare impact and offence to integrity. It is concluded that significant ethical concerns surround ratite farming that make the practice of dubious value as a means of producing food and leather with due respect to the animals’ needs.


Ethics Morality Ostrich Ratites 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, School of Veterinary ScienceUniversity of QueenslandGattonAustralia

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