What do animals want?

Motivation is a central concept for animal welfare; it has inspired methodological breakthroughs and generated a wealth of crucial empirical work. As the field develops beyond its original mandate to alleviate the suffering of animals in intensive farming systems, the assumptions behind the current models of motivation may warrant closer scrutiny. In this paper, I […]

Abnormal behavior and the self-regulation of motivational state

Although most abnormal behaviors, including all stereotypies, indicate poor welfare, some that occur in rare situations are functional and do not indicate a negative situation. There is a wide range of abnormal behaviors that occur in conditions where the animal’s needs are not met, and these can be valuable welfare indicators, but these should never […]

Preference and usage of pasture versus free-stall housing by lactating dairy cattle

The aim of the current study was to assess if cows preferred pasture or indoor housing, and how diurnal and environmental factors affected this preference. Lactating dairy cows (n = 5 groups, each containing 5 cows) were sequentially housed either in a free-stall barn on pasture, or given the choice between the 2 environments. Each […]

How should the psychological well-being of zoo elephants be objectively investigated?

Animal welfare (sometimes termed ‘‘well-being’’) is about feelings – states such as ‘‘suffering’’ or ‘‘contentment’’ that we can infer but cannot measure directly. Welfare indices have been developed from two main sources: studies of suffering humans, and of research animals deliberately subjected to challenges known to affect emotional state. We briefly review the resulting indices […]

Science-based assessment of animal welfare: farm animals

Animal welfare is to do with the feelings experienced by animals: the absence of strong negative feelings, usually called suffering, and (probably) the presence of positive feelings, usually called pleasure. In any assessment of welfare, it is these feelings that should be assessed. Because feelings are subjective, they cannot be investigated directly. However, there are […]

Middle-aged mice with enrichment-resistant stereotypic behaviour show reduced motivation for enrichment

For captive animals, living in barren conditions leads to stereotypic behaviour that is hard to alleviate using environmental enrichment. This resistance to enrichment is often explained via mechanisms that decouple abnormal behaviour from current welfare, such as ‘establishment’: a hypothetical process whereby repetition increases behaviour’s predictability and resistance to change. If such hypotheses are correct, […]

From an animal’s point of view: Motivation, fitness, and animal welfare

Stereotypic Animal Behaviour: Fundamentals and Applications to Welfare

Stereotypies, or stereotypic behaviours, are generally defined as unvarying, repetitive behaviour patterns that have no obvious goal or function. There are obvious examples, which include bar-biting of closely confined sows, wind sucking of stabled horses and repetitive pacing of certain zoo animals. However, many other less specific behaviour patterns can also be included. This book […]

Using motivation to feed as a way to assess the importance of space for broiler chickens

This paper describes a novel combination of feeding motivation and spatial preference testing. We used the feeding motivation test to determine a [`]low’ barrier height that broiler chickens, Gallus gallus domesticus, that were not food deprived would cross to get to food, and a [`]high’ barrier height that food-deprived chickens would cross to get to […]

Increasing farm animal welfare by positively motivated instrumental behaviour

Rewarded instrumental learning leads to the association of an environmental cue with the positive result of the own activity. Instrumental behaviour includes motivation for a specific reward, anticipation of its successful acquisition and positive appraisal. In this paper, we present theoretical and empirical evidence for the potential of an advanced type of cognitive enrichment, which […]