Development of a Decision Support System for Assessing Farm Animal Welfare in Relation to Husbandry Systems: Strategy and Prototype
Source: Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, Volume 14, Number 3, 2001 , pp. 321-337(17)
Abstract:Due to increasing empirical information on farm animal welfare since the 1960s, the prospects for sound decisionmaking concerning welfare have improved. This paper describes a strategy to develop a decision-making aid, a decision support system, for assessment of farm-animal welfare based on available scientific knowledge. Such a decision support system allows many factors to be taken into account. It is to be developed according to the Evolutionary Prototyping Method, in which an initial prototype is improved in reiterative updating cycles. This initial prototype has been constructed. It uses hierarchical representations to analyse scientific statements and statements describing the housing system. Welfare is assessed from what is known about the biological needs of the animals, using a welfare model in the form of a tree that contains these needs as welfare components. Each state of need is assessed using welfare relevant attributes of the housing system and weighting factors. Attributes are measurable properties of the housing system. Weighting factors are assigned according to heuristic rules based on the principle of weighting all components (attributes and needs) equally, unless there are strong reasons to do otherwise. Preliminary tests of the prototype indicate that it may be possible to perform assessment of farm-animal welfare in an explicit way and based on empirical findings. The procedure needs to be refined, but its prospects are promising.
Document Type: Regular Paper
Affiliations: 1: DLO-Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering (IMAG-DLO), P.O. Box 43, NL-6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org 2: DLO-Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering (IMAG-DLO), P.O. Box 43, NL-6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
Publication date: January 1, 2001