Animal welfare assessment conducted following Welfare Quality® protocols requires four basic principles to be taken into account:
- Are the animals properly fed and supplied with water?
- Are the animals properly housed?
- Are the animals healthy?
- Does the behaviour of the animals reflect optimized emotional states? (There is a good social relationship between individuals, animals can show species-typical behavioural needs, there is a good human-animal relationship and negative emotional states, such as fear, are absent).
These four questions are the starting point for establishing the different parameters grouped into four basic principles and 12 criteria on which the Welfare Quality® European animal welfare assessment model is based:
- Absence of prolonged hunger
- Absence of prolonged thirst
- Absence of injuries
- Absence of disease
- Absence of pain induced by management procedures such as castration, tail docking, dehorning and disbudding, etc.
- Comfort around resting
- Thermal comfort
- Ease of movement
- Eexpression of appropriate social behaviours, the absence of negative social behaviours (fighting, movements, etc.) and the presence of positive behaviours (licking, play, etc.)
- Expression of other important species-specific behaviours and the absence of abnormal behaviours like stereotypies.
- Adequate interaction between the animals and their caretakers, such that the animals show no fear of people
- Positive emotional state.