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Animal welfare science

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Title: Animal welfare science  
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Subject: Pain in animals, Furnished cages, Adaptive behavior (ecology), Behavioral ecology, Bruce effect
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Animal welfare science

Animal welfare science is the scientific study of the welfare of animals as pets, in zoos, laboratories, on farms and in the wild. Although animal welfare has been of great concern for many thousands of years in religion and culture, the investigation of animal welfare using rigorous scientific methods is a relatively recent development. The world's first Professor of Animal Welfare Science, Donald Broom, was appointed by Cambridge University (UK) in 1986.

Historical legislation and guidelines

Early legislation which formed the impetus for assessing animal welfare and the subsequent development of animal welfare science include the Ireland Parliament (Thomas Wentworth) "An Act against Plowing by the Tayle, and pulling the Wooll off living Sheep", 1635, and the Massachusetts Colony (Nathaniel Ward) "Off the Bruite Creatures" Liberty 92 and 93 in the "Massachusetts Body of Liberties" of 1641.[1]

Richard Martin's act, the "Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act 1822" is often considered to be the precursor of modern relevant legislation. One of the first national laws to protect animals was the UK "Cruelty to Animals Act 1835" followed by the "Protection of Animals Act 1911". In the US it was many years until there was a National law to protect animals - the "Animal Welfare Act of 1966" - although there were a number of states that passed anti-cruelty laws between 1828 and 1898.[2] In India, animals are protected by the "Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960". In the UK, the "Animal Welfare Act 2006" consolidated many different forms of animal welfare legislation.

Animal welfare science can be considered as the assessment of welfare. The first publication to include the term "assessment" appears to be a 1965 appendix by William Thorpe entitled The assessment of pain and distress in animals.[3] This was followed 20 years later by a highly influential paper on assessing pain and distress in laboratory animals by Morton and Griffiths.[4]

Methods of assessment

Animal welfare science uses a variety of behavioural or physiological measures or indicators. Integrated approaches to assess animal welfare include risk analysis and semantic modelling of animal welfare.[5]

Animal behaviour

  • Behaviour of captive animals upon release in a natural environment[11][12]

Animal physiology


Organisations interested in animal welfare science were set up before the subject became recognised as a science. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) was founded in 1824 by a group of twenty-two reformers led by Richard Martin MP (who would thereby earn the nickname Humanity Dick), William Wilberforce MP and the Reverend Arthur Broome. The Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) history can be traced to the founding in 1926 of the University of London Animal Welfare Society (ULAWS) by Major Charles Hume. The name was changed to the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare in 1938, reflecting the increasingly wide range of people and institutions involved.

More recent organisations involved in animal welfare science include the Scientists Center for Animal Welfare (SCAW)[1] and university departments specialising in this branch of science including the Animal Welfare and Anthrozoology Center at Cambridge University, the Animal Welfare Science Centre [2] at The University of Melbourne in Australia and the Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre [3] at Massey University in New Zealand. The Center for Animal Welfare Science [4] was also recently relaunched at Purdue University in the USA.

Although not limited to animal welfare science, many members of the International Society for Applied Ethology [5] work and publish research in this subject.

Journals, articles and books

Veterinary journals carrying articles on animal welfare have been published for many years, for example, the Veterinary Record has been published weekly since 1888. Peer-reviewed scientific journals have been launched more recently, e.g. Applied Animal Behaviour Science in 1974, Animal Welfare in 1992 and the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science in 1998.[28]

Many books on animal welfare science have been written, for example those by Professor Marian Stamp Dawkins,[29] Professor David Fraser,[30] Michael Appleby, Barry Hughes and Joy Mench,[31] John Webster,[32] and David Mellor et al.[33]


In 2011 in an article on the history of animal welfare science, Professor Donald Broom wrote "The numbers of animal welfare scientists is increasing rapidly. The subject is now being taught in all European countries and the number of university courses on animal welfare in Brazil has increased from one to over 60 in 15 years. The diversity of animal welfare science is increasing and the expansion is likely to continue. The decision by the American Veterinary Medical Association to promote the teaching of the subject in all American veterinary schools will have a substantial effect."[34]

See also


  1. ^ "Animal Rights History". Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  2. ^ "AWIC". Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  3. ^ Thorpe, W.H., (1965). The assessment of pain and distress in animals. Appendix III in the report of the technical committee to enquire into the welfare of animals kept under intensive husbandry conditions, F.W.R. Brambell (chairman). H.M.S.O., London
  4. ^ Morton, D.B. and Griffiths, P.H.M., (1985). Guidelines on the recognition of pain, distress and discomfort in experimental animals and an hypothesis for assessment. Veterinary Record, 116: 431–436
  5. ^ Bracke, M.B.M., Edwards, S.A., Metz, J.H.M., Noordhuizen, J.P.T.M. and Algers, B. (2008). Synthesis of semantic modelling and risk analysis methodology applied to animal welfare. Animal, 2:1061-1072. doi:10.1017/S1751731108002139
  6. ^ Mason, G.J., (1991). Stereotypies - A critical Review. Animal Behaviour, 41: 1015-1037. doi:10.1016/S0003-3472(05)80640-2
  7. ^ Claes, A., Attur Shanmugam, A. and Jensen, P. (2010). Habituation to environmental enrichment in captive Sloth Bears-effect on stereotypies. Zoo Biology, 29: 705-714. doi:10.1002/zoo.20301
  8. ^ a b Sherwin, C.M., Richards, G.J and Nicol, C.J., (2010). Comparison of the welfare of layer hens in 4 housing systems in the UK. British Poultry Science, 51: 488-499
  9. ^ Brunberg, E., Wallenbeck A. and Keeling L.J., (2011). Tail biting in fattening pigs: Associations between frequency of tail biting and other abnormal behaviours. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 133: 18-25. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2011.04.019
  10. ^ Dawkins, M.S., (1989). Time budgets in red junglefowl as a baseline for the assessment of welfare in domestic-fowl, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 24: 77-80. doi:10.1016/0168-1591(89)90126-3
  11. ^ McBride, G., Parer, I.P. and Foenander, F., (1969). The social organization and behaviour of the feral domestic fowl. Animal Behaviour Monographs, 2:125–181
  12. ^ Stolba, A. and Wood-Gush, D.G.M., (1989). The behaviour of pigs in a semi-natural environment. Animal Production, 48: 419-425
  13. ^ Sherwin, C.M. and Glen, E.F., (2003). Cage colour preferences and effects of home-cage colour on anxiety in laboratory mice. Animal Behaviour, 66: 1085-1092
  14. ^ Sherwin, C.M., (2004). The motivation of group-housed laboratory mice, Mus musculus, for additional space. Animal Behaviour, 67: 711-717. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2003.08.018
  15. ^ Mendl, M., Burman, O.H.P., Parker, R.M.A. and Paul, E.S., (2009). Cognitive bias as an indicator of animal emotion and welfare: Emerging evidence and underlying mechanisms. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 118: 161–181
  16. ^ Sherwin, C.M. and Olsson, I.A.S., (2004). Housing conditions affect self-administration of anxiolytic by laboratory mice. Animal Welfare, 13: 33-38
  17. ^ Duncan, I.J.H. and Wood-Gush, D.G.M., (1971). Frustration and aggression in the domestic fowl. Animal Behaviour, 19:500–504
  18. ^ Zimmerman, P.H., Lundberg, A., Keeling, L.J. and Koene, P., (2003). The effect of an audience on the gakel-call and other frustration behaviours in the laying hen (Gallus gallus domesticus). Animal Welfare, 12: 315–326
  19. ^ Kemppinen, N., Hau, J., Meller, A., Mauranen, K.,Kohila, T. and Nevalainen, T., (2010). Impact of aspen furniture and restricted feeding on activity, blood pressure, heart rate and faecal corticosterone and immunoglobulin A excretion in rats (Rattus norvegicus) housed in individually ventilated cages. Laboratory Animals, 44: 104-112
  20. ^ Laws, N., Ganswindt, A., Heistermann, M., Harris, M., Harris, S. and Sherwin, C., (2007). A case study: fecal corticosteroid and behavior as indicators of welfare during relocation of an asian elephant. Journal of Applied Animal Wlfare Science, 10: 349-358. doi:10.1080/10888700701555600
  21. ^ Accorsi, P.A., Carloni, E., Valsecchi, P., Viggiani, R., Garnberoni, M., Tarnanini, C. and Seren, E., (2008). Cortisol determination in hair and faeces from domestic cats and dogs. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 155: 392-402. doi:10.1016/j.ygcen.2007.07.002
  22. ^ Bortolotti, G.R., Marchant, T.A., Blas, J. and German, T., (2008). Corticosterone in feathers is a long-term, integrated measure of avian stress physiology. Functional Ecology, 22: 494-500. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2435.2008.01387.x
  23. ^ Royo, F., Mayo, S., Carlsson, H.E and Hau, J., (2008). Egg corticosterone: A noninvasive measure of stress in egg-laying birds. Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, 22: 310-314
  24. ^ Martin L.B., Kidd, L., Liebl A.L. and Coon, C.A.C., (2011). Captivity induces hyper-inflammation in the house sparrow (Passer domesticus). Journal of Experimental Biology, 214: 2579-2585. doi:10.1242/jeb.057216
  25. ^ Lewis M.H., Presti M.F., Lewis J.B. and Turner, C.A. (2006). The neurobiology of stereotypy I: Environmental complexity. In Stereotypic Animal Behaviour: Fundamentals and Applications to Welfare, G. Mason and J. Rushen (Editors). CABI. pp. 190-226. doi:10.1079/9780851990040.0190
  26. ^ Hughes, B.O., Gilbert, A.B. and Brown, M.F., (1986). Categorisation and causes of abnormal egg shells: relationship with stress. British Poultry Science, 27: 325-337
  27. ^ Wilcox, C.S., Patterson, J. and Cheng, H.W., (2009). Use of thermography to screen for subclinical bumblefoot in poultry. Poultry Science, 88: 1176-1180. doi:10.3382/ps.2008-00446
  28. ^ "JAAWS". Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  29. ^ Dawkins, M.S., (1980). Animal Suffering: The Science of Animal Welfare. Chapman and Hall, London
  30. ^ Fraser, D., (2008) Understanding Animal Welfare: The Science In Its Cultural Context. John Wiley and Sons
  31. ^ Linda J. Keeling, Jeff Rushen and Ian Duncan. Understanding animal welfare. Animal Welfare. 2011 Page 13. edited by Michael C. Appleby, Barry O. Hughes, Joy A. Mench
  32. ^ Webster, J (2008). Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden. John Wiley and Sons. p. 6. 
  33. ^ Mellor, D., Patterson-Kane, E. and Stafford, K.J., (2009). The Sciences of Animal Welfare. UFAW/Wiley-Blackwell
  34. ^ Broom, D.M., (2011). A History of Animal Welfare Science. Acta Biotheoretica, 59: 121-137. doi:10.1007/s10441-011-9123-3

Further references

  • Huntingford FA, C Adams, VA Braithwaite, S Kadri, TG Pottinger, P Sandøe and JF Turnbull (2006) "Review paper: Current issues in fish welfare" Journal of fish biology, 68 (2): 332–372. doi:10.1111/j.0022-1112.2006.001046.x
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