Skip to main content Accessibility help

The role of behaviour in the assessment of poultry welfare

  • Marian Stamp Dawkins (a1)


The problem of assessing welfare in poultry has been exacerbated by three widespread but erroneous assumptions. These are (1) that there are general indicators of welfare that apply to all situations, (2) that indicators of good welfare and those of reduced welfare are distinct from one another and (3) that any change in a welfare ‘indicator’ reflects a change in the welfare state of the animal. These three assumptions are challenged and replaced with a more evolutionary view of the behavioural and physiological responses of the domestic fowl to its environment. Apart from physical health, which is the Cornerstone of all good welfare, the most important additional component of poultry welfare is psychological health or ‘contentment’, which can be most reliably accessed through the birds' own choice behaviour.



Hide All
Appleby, M.C. and Hughes, B.O. (1997) Animal Welfare, CAB International, Wallingford
Barnett, J.L. and Hemsworth, P.H. (1990) The validity of physiological and behavioural measures of animal welfare. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 25: 177187
Broom, D.M. and Johnson, K.G. (1993) Stress and Animal Welfare, Chapman & Hall, London
Cacioppo, J.T., Klein, D.J., Berntson, G.C. and Hatfield, E. (1993) The psychophysiology of emotion. In: Handbook of Emotions (Lewis, M. and Hatfield, J.M., Eds), Guilford, New York, pp. 119142
Dawkins, M.S. (1980) Animal Suffering: The Science of Animal Welfare, Chapman & Hall, London
Dawkins, M.S. (1990) From an animal's point of view: motivation, fitness and animal welfare. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13: 161
Dawkins, M.S. (1998) Evolution and animal welfare. Quarterly Review of Biology 73: 305328
Duncan, I.J.H. (1993) Welfare is to do with what animals feel. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 6(Suppl 2): 814
Duncan, I.J.H. and Hughes, B.O. (1988) Can the welfare of poultry be measured? In: Science and The Poultry Industry (Hardcastle, J., Ed.), AFRC, Swindon, pp. 2425
Folstad, I. and Karter, A.J. (1992) Parasites, bright males, and the immunocompetence handicap. The American Naturalist 139: 603622
Fraser, D. (1995) Science, values and animal welfare: exploring the ‘inextricable connection’. Animal Welfare 4: 103117
Fraser, D. and Matthews, L.R. (1997) Preference and motivational testing. In: Animal Welfare (Appleby, M.C. and Hughes, B.O., Eds), CAB International, Wallingford, pp. 153173
Freeman, B.M. (1985) Stress and the domestic fowl: physiological fact or fantasy? World's Poultry Science Journal 52: 131174
Frijda, N.H. (1986) The Emotions, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Jones, R.B. (1996) Fear and adaptability in poultry: insights, implications and imperatives. World's Poultry Science Journal 52: 131174
Mason, G. and Mendl, M. (1993) Why is there no simple way of measuring animal welfare? Animal Welfare 2: 301320
Mccruden, A.B. and Stimson, W.H. (1991) Sex hormones and immune function. In: Psychoneuroimmunology (Ader, R., Felten, D.L. and Cohen, N., Eds), 2nd edition, Academic Press, New York, pp. 275294
Mendl, M. (1991) Some problems with the concept of a cut-off point for determining whenan animal's welfare is at risk. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 31: 139146
Nesse, R. and Williams, G.C. (1995) Evolution and Healing. The New Science of Darwinian Medicine, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London
Oatley, K. and Jenkins, J.M. (1996) Understanding Emotions, Blackwells, Oxford
Petherick, J.C. and Rutter, S.M. (1990) Quantifying motivation using a computer-controlled push door. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 27: 159167
Rushen, J. (1991) Problems associated with the interpretation of physiological data in the assessment of animal welfare. Applied Animal Bahaviour Science 28: 381386
Sapolsky, R.M. (1994) Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: A Guide to Stress and Stress-Related Diseases, W.H. Freeman, New york
Sherry, D.F., Mrosovsky, N. and Hogan, J.A. (1980) Weight loss and anorexia during incubation in birds. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology 94: 8998
Toates, F. (1995) Stress: Conceptual and Biological Aspects, John Wiley, New York
Wingfield, J.C., Hunt, K., Breuner, C., Dunlap, K., Fowler, G.S., Freed, L. and Lepson, J. (1997) Environmental stress, field endocrinology and conservation biology. In: Behavioral Approaches to Conservation in the Wild (Clemmons, J.R. and Buchholz, R., Eds), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 95131


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

The role of behaviour in the assessment of poultry welfare

  • Marian Stamp Dawkins (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.