Animal welfare science is a relatively new scientific discipline that strives to provide rigorous scientific evidence to estimate the welfare state of an animal. Although animal welfare science has made advances in areas such as the assessment of welfare, some of the key concepts which underlie this discipline are difficult to study and measure. For instance, “animal needs”, “sentience” and “suffering” though important and worthy of scientific inquiry, are challenging to define and assess. However concepts such as the “5 freedoms” or the more recent “5 domains” have helped advance our understanding of animal welfare. The Five Freedoms
Animal welfare is traditionally defined by the Five Freedoms, these are :
1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
2. Freedom from discomfort
3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease
4. Freedom to express normal behavior
5. Freedom from fear and distress
The next development of this definition are The Five DomainsThe Five Domains
The Five Freedoms and Five Domains frameworks contain essentially the same five elements. However, the Five Domains explore the mental state of an animal in more detail and acknowledge that for every physical aspect that is affected, there may be an accompanying emotion or subjective experience that may also affect welfare. This is useful in terms of reinforcing the message that emotional needs are equally important as physical needs for animals.
One of the most important strengths of the Five Domains is the clarity it provides that merely minimizing or resolving negative physical or mental states does not necessarily result in positive welfare, but may only provide, at best, a neutral state. To have good welfare, animals need more than this.Five Domains
5. Mental state
This approach allowed a distinction to be made between the physical and functional factors that affect an animal’s welfare and the overall mental state of the animal arising from these factors. Over the past 20 years this paradigm has been widely adopted as a tool for assessing the welfare impacts of research procedures, pest animal control methods and other interventions in animals’ lives.