Research project Lifting farm animal lives – laying the foundations for positive animal welfare
Main research question
When scoring farm animal welfare, indicators often boil down to potential deficiencies. The COST Action ‘LIFT’ will provide the background for including positive welfare in farm animal welfare assessment. The main aims are to 1) define positive farm animal welfare and clarify its concepts, 2) identify valid approaches to assess positive animal welfare, and 3) select methods suitable for on-farm use and provide recommendations for the inclusion of aspects of positive welfare in farm animal welfare assessment schemes.
The COST Action creates progress in this research area by using a multidisciplinary scientific approach. Cross-disciplinary knowledge sharing, training and Europe-wide collaboration lay the foundations for this growing area of research. Throughout the project, stakeholders are included that are responsible for welfare assurance schemes from industry, government and NGOs, as well as veterinary organisations and advisory bodies for farmers. Their involvement ensures practical feasibility and will ensure that the final goal is met, namely to improve the sustainability of the animal production sector.
The traditional approach to animal welfare was to prevent suffering. Consequently the science of animal welfare is strongly tilted towards the study of negative experiences. Recent advances, however, are leading to considerations of positive experiences, also referred to as positive welfare, which is more in line with consumer and citizen expectations. There is currently no agreement among researchers on what constitutes positive animal welfare, or what kinds of techniques, tests and procedures are sound methodologies to assess positive experiences in farm animals. Consequently, no welfare assessment scheme currently includes direct animal-based indicators of positive experiences.