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Towards a ‘Good Life’ for Farm Animals: Development of a Resource Tier Framework to Achieve Positive Welfare for Laying Hens
School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol, Langford House, Langford, BS40 5DU, UK
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Received: 1 March 2013; in revised form: 27 June 2013 / Accepted: 28 June 2013 / Published: 5 July 2013
Simple Summary: Farm animals can be said to have a ‘good life’ if their quality of life is substantially higher than the current legal minimum and includes positive experiences such as pleasure. In commercial farms, animals can be provided with different resources such as bedding, exercise areas and enrichment objects. We used scientific evidence and expert opinion to determine which resources laying hens need to contribute to a ‘good life’. These resources were organised into three tiers, of increasing welfare, leading towards a ‘good life’. We describe how we developed the resource tiers and suggest how the overall framework might be used to promote a ‘good life’ for farm animals.
Abstract: The concept of a ‘good life’ recognises the distinction that an animal’s quality of life is beyond that of a ‘life worth living’, representing a standard of welfare substantially higher than the legal minimum (FAWC, 2009). We propose that the opportunities required for a ‘good life’ could be used to structure resource tiers that lead to positive welfare and are compatible with higher welfare farm assurance schemes. Published evidence and expert opinion was used to define three tiers of resource provision (Welfare +, Welfare ++ and Welfare +++) above those stipulated in UK legislation and codes of practice, which should lead to positive welfare outcomes. In this paper we describe the principles underpinning the framework and the process of developing the resource tiers for laying hens. In doing so, we summarise expert opinion on resources required to achieve a ‘good life’ in laying hens and discuss the philosophical and practical challenges of developing the framework. We present the results of a pilot study to establish the validity, reliability and feasibility of the draft laying hen tiers on laying hen production systems. Finally, we propose a generic welfare assessment framework for farm animals and suggest directions for implementation, alongside outcome parameters, that can help define and promote a future ‘good life’ for farm animals.
Keywords: animal welfare; certification; chicken; farm assurance scheme; good life; laying hen; positive welfare; quality of life; resource
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Edgar, J.L.; Mullan, S.M.; Pritchard, J.C.; McFarlane, U.J.C.; Main, D.C.J. Towards a ‘Good Life’ for Farm Animals: Development of a Resource Tier Framework to Achieve Positive Welfare for Laying Hens. Animals 2013, 3, 584-605.
Edgar JL, Mullan SM, Pritchard JC, McFarlane UJC, Main DCJ. Towards a ‘Good Life’ for Farm Animals: Development of a Resource Tier Framework to Achieve Positive Welfare for Laying Hens. Animals. 2013; 3(3):584-605.
Edgar, Joanne L.; Mullan, Siobhan M.; Pritchard, Joy C.; McFarlane, Una J.C.; Main, David C.J. 2013. "Towards a ‘Good Life’ for Farm Animals: Development of a Resource Tier Framework to Achieve Positive Welfare for Laying Hens." Animals 3, no. 3: 584-605.