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Guidance to help tackle extreme conformation
The BVA’s new position statement comes amid increasing concerns over breeding and conformation-related problems.

Document sets out principles to enable healthier future generations of animals

A set of guiding principles and recommendations to help tackle extreme conformation across all animal species has been published by the BVA.

The principles form part of the BVA's new policy position on the vital role of vets in preventing, reporting and treating instances of extreme conformation across all species. They call on society, including vets and veterinary nurses, academics and breeders, 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.

The BVA’s new position statement comes amid increasing concerns over breeding and conformation-related problems. In a recent BVA Voice of the Veterinary Profession Survey, breeding and hereditary defects emerged as vets’ top animal health and welfare concern.

Almost half (45 per cent) of companion animal vets surveyed chose conformational deformities and pedigree breeding, particularly of brachycephalic breeds, among the three welfare issues that concern them most.

Exaggerated conformation across species was identified by BVA and its specialist divisions as a key focus for advocacy following the launch of BVA’s Animal Welfare Strategy in 2016. Since then, BVA has worked closely with its specialist divisions to compile six principles and ten recommendations spanning both companion and farm animal practice.

The recommendations include supporting breeders to make responsible breeding decisions, performing corrective surgical procedures and monitoring health records and reports, such as abattoir and Food Standards Agency reports, to identify the impact of extreme conformation in livestock.

BVA president Simon Doherty said: “This position was developed in close consultation with our specialist divisions and comes at a time when vets in various areas of practice are voicing concern about health and welfare issues resulting from poor breeding.
“While the veterinary profession is relatively small, its reach is significant and its role is critical to the health and welfare of not only animals but the rest of society too. We hope this document sets out some helpful principles and tips to enable vets as well as other stakeholders to strive for healthier future generations of animals across all species together.”


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