Terrestrial Animal Health Code
Introduction to the recommendations
for animal welfare
Animal welfare means how an animal is coping with the conditions in which it lives. An animal is in a good state of welfare if (as indicated by scientific evidence) it is healthy, comfortable, well nourished, safe, able to express innate behaviour, and if it is not suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, and distress. Good animal welfare requires disease prevention and veterinary treatment, appropriate shelter, management, nutrition, humane handling and humane slaughter/killing. Animal welfare refers to the state of the animal; the treatment that an animal receives is covered by other terms such as animal care, animal husbandry, and humane treatment.
Guiding principles for animal welfare
That there is a critical relationship between animal health and animal welfare.
That the internationally recognised ‘five freedoms’ (freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition; freedom from fear and distress; freedom from physical and thermal discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; and freedom to express normal patterns of behaviour) provide valuable guidance in animal welfare.
That the internationally recognised ‘three Rs’ (reduction in numbers of animals, refinement of experimental methods and replacement of animals with non-animal techniques) provide valuable guidance for the use of animals in science.
That the scientific assessment of animal welfare involves diverse elements which need to be considered together, and that selecting and weighing these elements often involves value-based assumptions which should be made as explicit as possible.
That the use of animals in agriculture and science, and for companionship, recreation and entertainment, makes a major contribution to the wellbeing of people.
That the use of animals carries with it an ethical responsibility to ensure the welfare of such animals to the greatest extent practicable.
That improvements in farm animal welfare can often improve productivity and food safety, and hence lead to economic benefits.
That equivalent outcomes based on performance criteria, rather than identical systems based on design criteria, be the basis for comparison of animal welfare standards and recommendations.
Scientific basis for recommendations
Welfare is a broad term which includes the many elements that contribute to an animal’s quality of life, including those referred to in the ‘five freedoms’ listed above.
The scientific assessment of animal welfare has progressed rapidly in recent years and forms the basis of these recommendations.
Some measures of animal welfare involve assessing the degree of impaired functioning associated with injury, disease, and malnutrition. Other measures provide information on animals’ needs and affective states such as hunger, pain and fear, often by measuring the strength of animals’ preferences, motivations and aversions. Others assess the physiological, behavioural and immunological changes or effects that animals show in response to various challenges.
Such measures can lead to criteria and indicators that help to evaluate how different methods of managing animals influence their welfare.
2010 ŠOIE - Terrestrial Animal Health Code