There is a common misperception that economics is about money. People holding this view will expect a paper on the economic aspects of animal welfare to quote various financial figures representing the effects on the costs of production, or on the consumer prices of animal products, from adjustments in production methods designed to ‘improve’ the welfare of farm livestock. Under such a view it would seem that better animal welfare is a cost to people, but a benefit to animals.
However, this is too simplistic a view of what economics is really about. Economic analysis is built up from a model that treats all economic activity as a series of resource-using processes undertaken to benefit people (considered collectively, not any particular subgroup) . Livestock production is one such economic process. It takes resources (land, feed, labour, animals, veterinary services, etc) and transforms them into commodities that people want - milk, meat, eggs, wool, etc. In economic terms, livestock production is simply the exploitation of animals for human benefit. Logically, any change in this process which is subject to decision (as opposed to factors outside human control) will only take place if people want it.