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Workshop: Towards a unified definition of animal welfare among animal welfare scientists

Animal welfare is a concept which is both science-based (i.e. its assessment is based on scientific research), and values-based (i.e. attitudes and values towards the concept). Although partly mandated by the public, it can be argued that animal welfare scientists are particularly well placed to assess and define the concept of animal welfare. Currently, two main issues in scientific conceptions of animal welfare arise:

  1. some definitions are descriptive, and practical, but not comprehensive;
  2. some definitions are more exhaustive and broad, but not operational and may be interpreted differently.

Yet, a growing group of animal scientists believe that one singular, comprehensive definition of animal welfare should be used. Therefore, diverging views among animal scientists should be examined. In this workshop, we will investigate whether one general operational conception of farm animal welfare can be achieved using a Delphi-based method to achieve consensus among participants. We will assimilate and discuss personal expert definitions of animal welfare, focussing on Fraser’s three concepts of animal welfare.

Workshop organisers: Sophie de Graaf1, Leonie Jacobs1, Olga Szczodry and Frank Tuyttens1,2

1 Flanders research institute for agriculture, fisheries and food (ILVO), Merelbeke, Belgium
2 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Merelbeke, Belgium