The journey to animal welfare improvement
The process of driving improvement in animal welfare has three stages: 1) assessment of animal welfare, 2) identification of the risk factors potentially leading to a compromise in animal welfare, and 3) interventions, in response to the risk factors, to bring about improvement in animal welfare. This process is applicable to animals farmed in commercial situations and for individual animals kept or worked in isolated environments. An impressive weight of knowledge has accumulated in the science of animal welfare assessment and this needs to be counterbalanced by development of mechanisms to actively improve welfare. In the case of animal welfare, interventions have to motivate the animal owner or carer to make changes to their own behaviour on behalf of a third party; the animal. This is a different situation from that described in the human health literature where interventions encourage people to take steps to improve their own well-being, thus benefiting themselves directly. The development of strategies to improve animal welfare require a multi-disciplinary approach including social scientists, psychologists and economists, however, the skills of animal welfare scientists are essential to ensure that interventions truly achieve improvements in animal welfare.
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