What does this mean?

«The concept of welfare refers to the state of an individual in relation to his or her environment and can be measured.” (Donald Broom, animal welfare scientist)

The member countries of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) agreed in 2008 that “animal welfare means the physical and mental state of an animal in relation to the conditions in which it lives and dies”.

Where does this come from?

In 1979 the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) of the United Kingdom established the first guidelines on animal welfare which stated that the animal must be free to “to turn round, groom itself, get up, lie down and stretch its limbs”, which served as the basis for defining the so-called Five Freedoms, whereby the welfare of an animal is guaranteed when the following five requirements are met:

  • The animal does not suffer from thirst, hunger or malnutrition, because it has access to drinking water and is provided with a diet suitable to its needs.
  • The animal does not suffer physical or thermal stress, because it is provided with a suitable environment, including shelter from inclement weather and a comfortable resting area.
  • The animal does not suffer pain, injury or disease, thanks to adequate prevention and/or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  • The animal is able to show most of its normal patterns of behaviour, because it is provided with the necessary space and appropriate facilities and is housed in the company of its own species.
  • The animal does not experience fear or distress because the necessary conditions to prevent mental suffering are guaranteed.

As a result of the European Welfare Quality® research project, which started in 2004 and focuses on integrating farm animal welfare into the food quality chain, these five freedoms have evolved into four principles and 12 criteria.