No one of sound mind would admit to knowingly cause unnecessary suffering to animals. Yet animals are clearly suffering both from poor welfare conditions and, as a consequence, from poor health. We have seen the results in the epidemic proportions of recent outbreaks and the incidence of endemic disease and chronic health problems. In considering a strategy for the improvement of animal health and welfare it is necessary to identify the causes of the present suffering in order that it might be alleviated. It is our opinion that there are three categories of cause: financial pressures, ignorance and an inadequate regulatory framework.