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Definition of criteria for overall assessment of animal welfare

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 January 2023

R Botreau*
INRA, UR1213 Herbivores, Site de Theix, Saint-Genès-Champanelle F-63122, France Institut de l'Elevage, BP18, Castanet Tolosan F-31321, France
I Veissier
INRA, UR1213 Herbivores, Site de Theix, Saint-Genès-Champanelle F-63122, France
A Butterworth
University of Bristol Clinical Veterinary Science, Langford, BS40 5DU, UK
MBM Bracke
Animal Sciences Group, Wageningen University and Research Centre, PO Box 65, Lelystad NL-8200 AB, The Netherlands
LJ Keeling
Department of Animal Environment and Health, University of Agricultural Sciences, PO Box 7038, Uppsala SE-750 07, Sweden
* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:


Welfare is multidimensional, comprising good health, comfort, expression of behaviour, and so on. Its overall assessment therefore requires a multicriteria evaluation. The set of criteria shall be exhaustive (no missing item), minimal (only necessary items), agreed by stakeholders, and legible (a limited number of criteria). Furthermore, the interpretation from one criterion shall not depend on that from another. We propose a set of 12 subcriteria grouped into four criteria: feeding, housing, health and optimised emotional states. This work will assist in developing measures to be used on-farm to form a European standard for overall assessment of animal welfare.

Research Article
© 2007 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare

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