Animals in the Business Supply Chain
Think of the many ways animals can be used, utilised and managed as part of business supply chains and the reach and extent might surprise you. Few sectors and processes are completely free of some relationship to an animal derived product – and others depend on it. Here is our take on some – but maybe not all – of those ways!
Historical Context: Sentience and Emotional Intelligence
At least since the early Neolithic period, animals have been reared, tamed and exploited by humans. In particular, animal husbandry was fundamental to the development of settled agriculture, and has underpinned some of the most significant advances in early human evolution. The move from hunter-gatherer to settled farming in time led to the emergence of communities and settlements in which animals were at their heart. Early farmers, in addition to developing tools for hunting understood that animals provided milk, fur, meat and wool and could be used for burden, cultivation (ploughing) and carriage.
In Britain, early settled farming is usually dated from c5,000BC, at the end of the New Stone Age, but it is known from archaeological evidence to date from as early as 11,000BC in the modern Middle-East. The Middle Bronze Age (1,500-1,200BC), saw the first field systems laid down using ox and cattle to plough, with evidence of the horse emerging as essential to communal mobility as early as 6,000 years ago.
An important context for this Insight is that welfare is not just a ‘nice to do’ but the right thing to do.
Animals fear pain, anxiety and isolation and can suffer ‘grief symptoms’ at the removal of their young. Owing to the ubiquity of animals in the food chain, humans can often fail to relate to them in their own terms without biases created by their economic utility; and this bias is most extreme between companion and domesticated animals. The main breeds exhibit intelligence, learning and recognition skills – studies suggest sheep can facially recognise up to 50 individuals for two years (which may be why they study humans so intently). Intensive farming has numbed the ability to see animals as individuals with complex behaviours. Whilst the food industry is a reality, cruelty, neglect and harmful treatment should not be – the pursuit of high standards where animals are used, lies at the heart of this Insight.