A new framework for the assessment of animal welfare: Integrating existing knowledge from a practical ethics perspective [Book Review]

When making an assessment of animal welfare, it is important to take environmental (housing) or animal-based parameters into account. An alternative approach is to focus on the behavior and appearance of the animal, without making actual measurements or quantifying this. None of these tell the whole story. In this paper, we suggest that it is possible to find common ground between these (seemingly) diametrically opposed positions and argue that this may be the way to deal with the complexity of animal welfare. The model will have to be acceptable for the different parties that will be affected by it and real benefits for the animal should result from it. This will be the basis of a practical ethical approach. All this can be condensed into a model that essentially is made up out of three basic elements: the classical welfare analysis with an existing welfare assessment tool, an assessment of the stockholder, and an implementation of the Free Choice Profiling technique. This new framework does not pretend to be a different or better animal welfare matrix; it is intended to integrate existing knowledge and to provide a practical tool to improve animal welfare. It identifies whether there are welfare problems on a farm, if present whether these problems are caused by the housing system or the stockholder, and what can be done to improve the situation.
Keywords animal welfare  Free Choice Profiling  housing system  practical ethics  stockholder
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DOI 10.1007/s10806-005-4376-y
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