Aggregating animal welfare indicators: can it be done in a transparent and ethically robust way?

A central aim of animal welfare science is to be able to compare the effects of different ways of keeping, managing or treating animals based on welfare indicators. A system to aggregate the different indicators is therefore needed. However, developing such a system gives rise to serious challenges. Here, we focus specifically on the ethical […]

Welfare monitoring schemes: Using research to safeguard welfare of animals on the farm

There are a number of nonhuman animal welfare monitoring schemes for animals on the farm in Australia and in other countries. Although the majority of such schemes are voluntary rather than legislated, some are nevertheless enforced through a number of customer requirements that industries must meet to gain access to markets. Animal welfare monitoring schemes […]

Can farm animal welfare be understood without taking into account the issues of emotion and cognition?

Although the concept of welfare makes reference to feelings of individual animals, the exact nature of these feelings and their relationship to emotions and cognitive abilities of the animals under consideration are never detailed. Based on the concepts of stress and coping, an extensive list of indicators of physical health, production, behavior, and physiology has […]

Animal Health 2006: The Report of the Chief Veterinary Officer

Domestic animals’ fear of humans and its effect on their welfare

Many studies on pigs, poultry, and dairy cattle have shown that rough or aversive handling of farm animals by people can substantially reduce the animals’ productivity and welfare. Some of this effect occurs because the animals become afraid, either of people in general, or of specific individuals as a result of aversive handling. In this […]

Review of the Effectiveness of Axis II Animal Welfare Measures – First Evidence from the Animal Health and Welfare Management (AHWM) Programme in Scotland

The main objective of this study is to review first experiences of the AHWM Programme in Scotland. The review of the AHWM Programme is largely based on information collated through targeted surveys of participating and non-participating farmers and veterinary practices in five different Scottish regions. The questionnaires were divided in four main sections including introductory […]

Vocalization of farm animals as a measure of welfare

Emotionally relevant external events, hormone concentrations affecting mood and appetitive behaviour, thirst and hunger are able to stimulate a complex central nervous network that regulates endocrine feedback and behaviour in order to maintain or regain homeostasis. Particular states of mood or emotion may thus be accompanied by specific behaviours, vocalization being one of them. Hence, […]

Heart rate variability as a measure of autonomic regulation of cardiac activity for assessing stress and welfare in farm animals — A review

Measurement of heart rate variability (HRV) is a non-invasive technique that can be used to investigate the functioning of the autonomic nervous system, especially the balance between sympathetic and vagal activity. It has been proven to be very useful in humans for both research and clinical studies concerned with cardiovascular diseases, diabetic autonomic dysfunction, hypertension […]

Maternal care of rabbits in the lab and on the farm: Endocrine regulation of behavior and productivity

Maternal behavior in rabbits has been well described in the wild, the laboratory, and the farm. Salient characteristics include: (a) the construction of a nest (inside an underground burrow or a box), composed of straw/grass and body hair and (b) the display of a single, brief (ca. 3 min) nursing bout per day. The onset and […]

Emotions and cognition- a new approach to animal welfare

The concept of quality of life in animals is closely associated with the concepts of animal sentience and animal welfare. It reflects a positive approach that inquires what animals like or prefer doing. The assessment of farm animal welfare requires a good understanding of the animals’ affective experience, including their emotions. However, affective experience in […]