Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 60687
Title Overall animal welfare assessment reviewed. Is it possible?
Author(s) Bracke, M.B.M.; Spruijt, B.M.; Metz, J.H.M.
Source Netherlands Journal of Agricultural Science 47 (1999). - ISSN 0028-2928 - p. 279 - 291.
Department(s) ATV Farm Technology
Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 1999
Abstract Several authors have concluded that scientists should not attempt to perform overall animal welfare assessment (OWA). They argue that scientists have continued to fail to make progress in this area and that value judgements are inherently involved in OWA for which science cannot provide answers. We take a more positive attitude toward OWA and argue that scientists should avoid creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. OWA is necessary for making actual moral and political decisions. Science has already accumulated much relevant information about welfare and this information should be applied in decision making. The task of OWA is to assess welfare based on knowledge of the biological needs of animals. Weighting of welfare relevant factors constitutes a problem. However, when scientists cannot provide empirical data to solve weighting issues, this does not mean that rational answers cannot be found, e.g. in the form of procedural rules. OWA is conceived as a problem of multi-criteria decision making with fuzzy information. If focuses on the descriptive aspect of welfare, i.e. on what the welfare status of the animals really is without taking an ethical stance. The welfare status of animals depends on their biology and on the way animals assess their own welfare. It does not depend on how it happens to be perceived by us. Even though OWA necessarily remains a human activity, it is not arbitrary, nor does it allow of multiple 'correct' answers. OWA is a descriptive activity that can achieve more and more accuracy as science proceeds.
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