Animal welfare is a core value for the automotive leather industry
“Where does the leather in my car interior come from?” This is a question more and more consumers are asking these days. The answer to this question touches upon an often-propagated issue concerning the leather industry: animal welfare. So how does that work?
Animal welfare is a complex subject with many different aspects, perspectives and working issues. The “Five Freedoms” best describe the core principles of animal welfare and are the basis for all actions of the automotive leather industry regarding animal welfare. In fact, the automotive leather industry requires suppliers to work according to these principles. These are:
- Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.
- Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
- Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
- Freedom to express (most) normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animals own kind.
- Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment, which avoids mental suffering.
(Farm Animal Welfare Council, 1979)
Hide quality is affected by defects in the grain. Damage by mites and lice and dung contamination are the main cause of leather downgrading. Improving cattle welfare by reducing mite and lice infestation and providing adequate housing conditions should lead to a higher quality leather. Better handling of the animals during farming, transport and slaughtering reduces scratches, stitches and scars. Providing an appropriate diet leads to shiny hair and healthy skin. Proper cattle management can prevent most of the leather damage seen on leather. The better the animal’s life, the more beautiful the leather will be.
The main cattle producing nations have been promoting animal welfare over the past few decades, gradually improving the lives of cattle. Governments, farmers, and NGOs are striving to ensure that cattle are kept and transported under conditions that do not subject them to maltreatment, abuse, pain or suffering. As leather industry we find it of utmost importance to keep animal welfare top of mind, as we believe living beings that nourish us deserve a good life and respectful treatment.
Go to the next topic: What are leather alternatives?