This paper briefly reviews the development of monitoring procedures used for the assessment of husbandry and welfare within Farm Quality Assurance (QA) schemes. Most current protocols are based on measures of the resources, records and management provisions necessary to promote good
husbandry. However, it is now generally accepted that monitoring protocols should be largely or wholly made up of direct, animal-based measurements of animal welfare. Whether based on provisions or outcomes, many current schemes lack impact, partly because they do not necessarily lead to effective
action on-farm and partly through lack of public awareness or trust in the claimed benefits of the scheme. This paper proposes the concept of the 'Virtuous Bicycle' as a delivery vehicle for improvements in farm animal welfare through simultaneous operation of two virtuous cycles, one on-farm,
involving assessment, action and review, the other at the retailer level, involving assurance and promotion, based on proof of compliance.