Operational Details of the Five Domains Model and Its Key Applications to the Assessment and Management of Animal Welfare

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DOI: 10.3390/ani7080060
Cite this publication
Abstract
In accord with contemporary animal welfare science understanding, the Five Domains Model has a significant focus on subjective experiences, known as affects, which collectively contribute to an animal's overall welfare state. Operationally, the focus of the Model is on the presence or absence of various internal physical/functional states and external circumstances that give rise to welfare-relevant negative and/or positive mental experiences, i.e., affects. The internal states and external circumstances of animals are evaluated systematically by referring to each of the first four domains of the Model, designated "Nutrition", "Environment", "Health" and "Behaviour". Then affects, considered carefully and cautiously to be generated by factors in these domains, are accumulated into the fifth domain, designated "Mental State". The scientific foundations of this operational procedure, published in detail elsewhere, are described briefly here, and then seven key ways the Model may be applied to the assessment and management of animal welfare are considered. These applications have the following beneficial objectives-they (1) specify key general foci for animal welfare management; (2) highlight the foundations of specific welfare management objectives; (3) identify previously unrecognised features of poor and good welfare; (4) enable monitoring of responses to specific welfare-focused remedial interventions and/or maintenance activities; (5) facilitate qualitative grading of particular features of welfare compromise and/or enhancement; (6) enable both prospective and retrospective animal welfare assessments to be conducted; and, (7) provide adjunct information to support consideration of quality of life evaluations in the context of end-of-life decisions. However, also noted is the importance of not overstating what utilisation of the Model can achieve.
animals
Review
Operational Details of the Five Domains Model and
Its Key Applications to the Assessment and
Management of Animal Welfare
David J. Mellor
Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre, Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences,
Massey University, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand; d.j.mellor@massey.ac.nz;
Tel.: +64-6-356-9099 (ext. 84024)
Academic Editor: Clive J. C. Phillips
Received: 19 June 2017; Accepted: 5 August 2017; Published: 9 August 2017
Simple Summary:
The Five Domains Model is a focusing device to facilitate systematic, structured,
comprehensive and coherent assessment of animal welfare; it is not a definition of animal welfare,
nor is it intended to be an accurate representation of body structure and function. The purpose
of each of the five domains is to draw attention to areas that are relevant to both animal welfare
assessment and management. This paper begins by briefly describing the major features of the Model
and the operational interactions between the five domains, and then it details seven interacting
applications of the Model. These underlie its utility and increasing application to welfare assessment
and management in diverse animal use sectors.
Abstract:
In accord with contemporary animal welfare science understanding, the Five Domains
Model has a significant focus on subjective experiences, known as affects, which collectively contribute
to an animal’s overall welfare state. Operationally, the focus of the Model is on the presence or
absence of various internal physical/functional states and external circumstances that give rise
to welfare-relevant negative and/or positive mental experiences, i.e., affects. The internal states
and external circumstances of animals are evaluated systematically by referring to each of the first
four domains of the Model, designated “Nutrition”, “Environment”, “Health” and “Behaviour”.
Then affects, considered carefully and cautiously to be generated by factors in these domains,
are accumulated into the fifth domain, designated “Mental State”. The scientific foundations of
this operational procedure, published in detail elsewhere, are described briefly here, and then seven
key ways the Model may be applied to the assessment and management of animal welfare are
considered. These applications have the following beneficial objectives—they (1) specify key general
foci for animal welfare management; (2) highlight the foundations of specific welfare management
objectives; (3) identify previously unrecognised features of poor and good welfare; (4) enable
monitoring of responses to specific welfare-focused remedial interventions and/or maintenance
activities; (5) facilitate qualitative grading of particular features of welfare compromise and/or
enhancement; (6) enable both prospective and retrospective animal welfare assessments to be
conducted; and, (7) provide adjunct information to support consideration of quality of life evaluations
in the context of end-of-life decisions. However, also noted is the importance of not overstating what
utilisation of the Model can achieve.
Keywords:
affects; five domains model; model applications; situation-related factors; survival-critical
factors; welfare assessment; welfare management
Animals 2017,7, 60; doi:10.3390/ani7080060 www.mdpi.com/journal/animals
Animals 2017,7, 60 2 of 20
1. Introduction
Fresh conceptual frameworks are usually developed to correct perceived errors or inadequacies in
current ideas and thus owe a debt to the earlier ways of thinking from which they evolved. In animal
welfare science, the 1994 formulation of the Five Domains Model [
1
] had its origin in the highly
influential Five Freedoms paradigm [
2
6
]. However, cursory consideration of this original linkage has
led to an erroneous view that the Model is merely a substitute for the Five Freedoms [
7
,
8
], whereas the
Five Provisions/Welfare Aims paradigm has recently been formulated for that specific purpose [6].
The influence of the Five Freedoms paradigm over the last two decades was likely due to four key
factors [
5
7
], namely that it (1) scoped the wider dimensions of animal welfare, including subjective
experiences, health status and behaviour; (2) specified areas of welfare concern in terms of particular
negative experiences (thirst, hunger, fear, distress, discomfort, pain) and states (malnutrition, injury,
disease, behavioural expression); (3) defined five particular targets for welfare improvement in terms
of “Freedoms”; and (4) presented practical advice on how these targets might be achieved by outlining
particular “Provisions” aligned with each Freedom. Thus, the Five Freedoms paradigm became so
integrated into the understanding of animal welfare and its management that it, at least implicitly,
assumed a status akin to a definition [
3
,
4
]. Broom [
9
] defined animal welfare more explicitly as “the
state of an animal as regards its attempts to cope with its environment”, adding that, “welfare is a wide
term that embraces both the physical and mental well-being of the animal”.
The Five Domains Model was designed specifically to facilitate structured, systematic, comprehensive
and coherent animal welfare assessments, with a focus initially on welfare compromise [
1
,
10
,
11
] and
then on both compromise and enhancement [
12
]. The Model was never intended to have an implicit or
explicit role as a definition of animal welfare. Thus, its regular updates [
10
13
] using the latest validated
knowledge (e.g., [
5
,
14
22
]) were designed to sustain the breadth, depth and currency of Model-based
welfare assessments in order to improve animal welfare management, and not to give the Model any
standing as a definition of animal welfare. Moreover, the principal architect of the Model (the present
author), in acknowledging that little consensus has emerged among scientists regarding definitions of
animal welfare (see [
11
,
23
25
]), has long preferred to characterise animal welfare in terms of its currently
accepted major attributes (e.g., [
5
,
11
]). This avoids the potential inflexibility and defensiveness that
definitions sometimes attract, allows well-accepted notions to be included and, as ideas change, for related
features of the characterisation to be revised appropriately or discarded [5].
In view of these observations, and growing interest in utilising the Five Domains Model in various
animal use sectors [
1
,
10
,
11
,
26
37
], it would be helpful to clarify what can and cannot be accomplished
by knowledgeable application of the Model to the assessment and management of animal welfare.
Accordingly, unlike previous publications where the focus was on the scientific foundations of the
Model [
5
,
11
,
12
,
29
], the approach adopted here is to emphasise key operational features of the Model.
To this end the present paper begins with a brief outline of those features of the Model that support its
use for welfare assessment. It continues by providing helpful examples of states, situations, affects
and interactions between domains to illustrate key elements of how the Model operates. Then seven
key applications of the Model to welfare assessment and management are enunciated, and they are
followed by conclusions.
At the outset, note that consideration of what animals experience subjectively, i.e., their affects,
has a key role in contemporary animal welfare science thinking [
5
,
12
,
33
,
38
], the affects of welfare
significance being those that are consciously experienced as unpleasant or pleasant rather than as
hedonically neutral [
8
,
14
,
17
,
18
,
24
,
25
,
39
,
40
]. The occurrence of the affects animals may experience is
inferred from the presence of internal states and/or external conditions responsible for generating
them [
5
,
12
]. Accordingly, every evaluation of an animal’s general welfare status, or specific features of
it, is hypothetical to the extent that it involves making such inferences [
38
]. However, those inferences
derive credibility from validated knowledge of the underlying systems physiology, neurophysiology
and affective neuroscience, as also from the caution exercised when inferring the presence of particular
Animals 2017,7, 60 3 of 20
affects (e.g., [
15
,
19
,
22
,
38
,
41
,
42
]). Thus, the process involves cautiously exercising scientifically informed
best judgement.
2. Major Features of the Five Domains Model
The major features of the Model depicted in Figure 1and explained briefly here have been outlined
in detail in a series of fully referenced review articles [
1
,
10
,
11
,
13
,
28
,
43
]. These are the primary sources
for the following brief account; other sources are noted below. A fundamental aspect of the Model’s
use is that all interpretations should be credibly supported by current scientific knowledge.
2.1. General Overview of the Model
The Model is not intended to be an accurate representation of body structure and function.
Rather, it is a focusing device designed to facilitate assessment of animal welfare in a systematic,
structured, comprehensive and coherent manner. The purpose of each of the five domains is to
draw attention to areas that are relevant to welfare assessments. The Model therefore facilitates
identification of internal physical/functional states and external circumstances that give rise to
negative and/or positive subjective mental experiences (affects) that have animal welfare significance.
As the body functions as a dynamically integrated whole entity, the specific body functions or
states, external circumstances and related affective experiences identified via the Model inevitably
interact. Accordingly, there may be overlap between factors considered within different domains.
However, awareness of the potential for this avoids problems when using the Model, as illustrated
below (see Sections 2.3 and 3).
2.2. The Domains and Their Role
Specifically, the Model focuses attention on welfare-significant internal states via Domains 1
to 3, which are labelled “Nutrition”, “Environment” and “Health”, and on welfare-significant
external circumstances via Domain 4, which is labelled “Behaviour”. Once the internal states and
external circumstances have been identified, any associated affective experiences, inferred cautiously,
are accumulated into Domain 5, which is labelled “Mental State”. The indices of the internal states are
mainly anatomical, biochemical, physiological and clinical in character, but also include behaviour,
whereas the indices relevant to consideration of the impacts of external circumstances are mostly
behavioural, but they may be supported by some of the functional/clinical indices just mentioned.
Regarding Domains 1 to 3, “Nutrition”, “Environment” and “Health”, the affects generated by
particular internal states are understood to be genetically pre-programmed drives that impel animals
to engage in behaviours that help to secure their survival. These are designated survival-critical
behaviours and affects. Each such affect motivates a specific behaviour (e.g., breathlessness drives
heightened respiratory activity, thirst drives water seeking and drinking, pain motivates withdrawal
from or avoidance of injurious events), and their undoubted negativity is essential to create a sense of
urgency or a compulsion to respond.
The valence, i.e., the emotional character, of these affects is confined to the negative-to-neutral
range (Figure 2). Assigned to Domain 5, “Mental state”, these affects are now considered to
include breathlessness, thirst, hunger, pain, nausea, dizziness, debility, weakness and sickness.
Nevertheless, behaviours motivated by some of these negative affects may also provide opportunities
for animals to have positive experiences; for example, thirst-motivated water intake may give rise to
the wetting and quenching pleasures of drinking, and hunger-motived foraging or hunting may lead
to the consumption of foods having pleasant tastes, smells, textures and variety (Figure 1).
Animals 2017,7, 60 4 of 20
5: Mental State
Survival-Related Factors
Situation-Related Factors
1: Nutrition
2: Environment
3: Health
4: Behaviour
Negative
Thirst
Hunger (general)
Hunger (salt)
Malnutrition malaise
Bloated, over full
Gastrointestinal pain
Positive
Wetting/quenching
pleasures of drinking
Pleasures of different
tastes/smells/textures
Pleasure of salt taste
Masticatory pleasures
Postprandial satiety
Gastrointestinal comfort
Negative
Forms of discomfort:
Thermal: chilling, overheating
Physical: joint pain, skin irritation
Physical: stiffness, muscle tension
Respiratory: e.g. breathlessness
Olfactory
Auditory: impairment, pain
Visual: glare/darkness eye strain
Malaise from unnatural constancy
Positive
Forms of comfort:
Thermal
Physical
Respiratory
Olfactory
Auditory
Visual
Variety-related comfort
Negative
Breathlessness
Pain: many types
Debility, weakness
Sickness, malaise
Nausea
Dizziness
Physical exhaustion
Positive
Comfort of good
health and high
functional capacity
Vitality of fitness
Negative
Anger, frustration
Boredom, helplessness
Loneliness, isolation
Depression
Sexual frustration
Anxiety, fearfulness, panic, anger
Neophobia
Exhaustion
Positive
Calmness
Engaged, in control
Affectionate sociability
Maternally rewarded
Excitation/playfulness
Sexual gratification
Secure/protected/confident
Likes novelty
Energised/refreshed
‘Agency’ exercised via:
Varied, novel, engaging
environmental
challenges
Congenial sensory inputs
Available engaging
choices
Free movement
Exploration
Foraging/hunting
Bonding/reaffirming
bonds
Rearing young
Playing
Sexual activity
Using refuges, retreat, or
defensive attack
Sleep/rest sufficient
Exercise of ‘agency’ impeded by:
Invariant, barren environment
(ambient, physical, biotic)
Inescapable sensory impositions
Choices markedly restricted
Constraints on environment-
focused activity
Constraints on animal-to-
animal interactive activity
Limits on threat avoidance,
escape or defensive activity
Limitations on sleep/rest
Little or no:
Disease
Injury
Functional
impairment
Poisoning
Body condition
appropriate
Good fitness level
Presence of:
Disease: acute, chronic
Injury: acute, chronic;
husbandry mutilations
Functional impairment:
due to limb amputation;
or lung, heart, vascular,
kidney, neural or other
problems
Poisons
Obesity/leanness
Poor physical fitness:
muscle de-conditioning
Available conditions:
Thermally tolerable
Suitable substrate
Space for freer movement
Fresh air
Pleasant/tolerable odours
Light intensity tolerable
Noise exposure
acceptable
Normal environmental
variability
Predictability
Unavoidable/imposed conditions:
Thermal extremes
Unsuitable substrate
Close confinement
Atmospheric pollutants: CO2,
ammonia, dust, smoke
Unpleasant/strong odours
Light: inappropriate intensity
Loud/otherwise unpleasant noise
Environmental monotony:
ambient, physical, lighting
Unpredictable events
Opportunities to:
Drink enough water
Eat enough food
Eat a balanced diet
Eat a variety of foods
Eating correct quantities
Restrictions on:
Water intake
Food intake
Food quality
Food variety
Voluntary
overeating
Force-feeding
The Five Domains Model
Physical/Functional Domains
Welfare Status
Affective Experience Domain
Figure 1.
The Five Domains Model (modified from [
12
]): The examples provided for the physical/functional Domains 1 to 3, labelled “Nutrition”, “Environment” and
“Health”, are intended to direct attention towards mainly internal survival-related factors, and those provided for Domain 4, labelled “Behaviour”, focus attention largely on
external situation-related factors. For each of Domains 1 to 4, examples of negative and positive factors are provided and are aligned with inferred negative or positive
affective experiences, assigned to Domain 5, labelled “Mental State”. The overall affective experience in the mental domain equates to the welfare status of the animals,
as explained in the text. Note that an animal exercises “agency” (Domain 4: “Behaviour”) when it engages in voluntary, self-generated and goal-directed behaviours [
44
,
45
].
Animals 2017,7, 60 5 of 20
Animals 2017, 7, x FOR PEER REVIEW 6 of 20
Figure 2. Depiction of different subjective experiences, or affects, over the full valence range from
negative-to-neutral-to-positive and relationships between the different types of experience. Internal
factors, which include naturally occurring or induced functional imbalances or disruptions (captured
mainly by Domains 1 to 3), give rise to survival-critical experiences (e.g., breathlessness, thirst, hunger,
pain, nausea, sickness) that motivate animals to engage in behaviours aimed at securing life-
sustaining resources (e.g., oxygen, water, food) or minimising life-threatening harms (e.g., injury,
food poisoning, infection). The valence of these experiences is negative, and their intensity ranges
from exceptionally negative to neutral. External factors, which influence animals’ perception of the
levels of threat or safety, degrees of under-stimulation or pleasurable stimulation from low to high,
restrictions on or ease of movement, and social isolation or opportunities for companionable
interaction with other animals (captured mainly by Domain 4), give rise to situation-related experiences
over the full valence range from strongly negative to strongly positive. Environmental enrichment
initiatives can replace situation-related negative experiences with positive experiences. Interactions
between the different types of experience are apparent when the intensity of negative survival-critical
experiences is sufficiently severe to demotivate or inhibit animals from utilising available opportunities
to engage in behaviours that would generate positive situation-related experiences.
As the focus of Model-based welfare assessments is on specific affects, or groups of affects, and
their sources, it is important to consider how well supported are inferences about the presence of
each affect. Confidence in such inferences depends on how well-described the underlying affective
neuroscience is, the specificity of any physical/functional indices and/or the distinctiveness of
indicative behaviours, all evaluated in the context of the animal’s physical, biotic and social
environment.
Regarding the negative survival-critical affects, the underlying neuroscience knowledge,
physical/functional indices and behaviours are well demonstrated and allow breathlessness, thirst,
hunger, pain and sickness to be identified (e.g., [15,19,20,41,42,48,49]). However, it is not as easy to
distinguish between nausea, dizziness, debility, weakness and sickness unless the specific
circumstances of the animal and/or specific functional indices provide sufficient justification to
identify a particular affect [15]. If not, two or more of these affects might be combined, for example,
nausea and dizziness or debility, weakness and sickness, allowing for less specific, but still
informative consideration.
In the situation-related category, there are good neuroscience bases for using indicative behaviours
to cautiously distinguish between the negative affects of anxiety, fear, panic, depression, frustration
and anger observed in animals in relation to their particular circumstances (e.g., [15,16,47,50–54],
whereas behavioural indices may not enable helplessness, loneliness and/or boredom to be
distinguished as easily. Accordingly, identifying any of the latter group of affects should be done
Inhibit
Situation-related pos
i
t
i
v
eexperiences
External circumstances
Situation-related negative experiences
Threatening; Barren; Restricted; I solated
Anxiety, Fear, Panic, Helplessness
Loneliness, Boredom, Depression
Frustration, Anger
Safe; Stim ulus-rich; S pacious; Co mpanions
Calm, Secure, Protected, Confident
Engaged, interested, in control
Affectionately sociable, bonded
Rewarded maternally, paternally, or as a group
Excitedly playful; Sexually gratified
Internal imbalances or disruptions
Breathlessness, Thirst, Hunger, Pain
Nausea, Dizziness, Debility
Weakness, Sickness
Negative
Envi
r
onmental
enrichment
Internal factors
Neutral
Positive
Survival-critical negative experiences
Figure 2.
Depiction of different subjective experiences, or affects, over the full valence range
from negative-to-neutral-to-positive and relationships between the different types of experience.
Internal factors
, which include naturally occurring or induced functional imbalances or disruptions
(captured mainly by Domains 1 to 3), give rise to survival-critical experiences (e.g., breathlessness, thirst,
hunger, pain, nausea, sickness) that motivate animals to engage in behaviours aimed at securing
life-sustaining resources (e.g., oxygen, water, food) or minimising life-threatening harms (e.g., injury,
food poisoning, infection). The valence of these experiences is negative, and their intensity ranges from
exceptionally negative to neutral.
External factors
, which influence animals’ perception of the levels of
threat or safety, degrees of under-stimulation or pleasurable stimulation from low to high, restrictions
on or ease of movement, and social isolation or opportunities for companionable interaction with other
animals (captured mainly by Domain 4), give rise to situation-related experiences over the full valence
range from strongly negative to strongly positive. Environmental enrichment initiatives can replace
situation-related negative experiences with positive experiences.
Interactions
between the different
types of experience are apparent when the intensity of negative survival-critical experiences is sufficiently
severe to demotivate or inhibit animals from utilising available opportunities to engage in behaviours
that would generate positive situation-related experiences.
The role of Domain 4, labelled “Behaviour”, is to focus attention on animals’ likely perceptions
of their external circumstance and the affective experiences that may be associated with those
perceptions. To emphasise this, Domain 4 was assigned the role of dealing with “situation-related
factors”. Behaviour, incorporating appearance, demeanour, activity/inactivity and vocalisation/silence,
evaluated in the context of the animals’ physical, biotic and social environment, guides making cautious
inferences about the affects they are likely to experience, accumulated into Domain 5, designated
“Mental state”.
Close confinement and isolation of social animals in threatening and/or barren environments
may lead to experiences that include various combinations of anxiety, fear, panic, frustration, anger,
helplessness, loneliness, boredom and depression (Figures 1and 2). In domesticated circumstances,
these external conditions are often imposed by persons in charge of the animals, and, if so, are amenable
to corrective measures being taken by them.
Keeping social animals with congenial others in spacious, stimulus-rich and safe environments
provides them with opportunities to engage in behaviours they may find rewarding, in other words,
it provides opportunities for them to experience “positive affective engagement” [
20
]. In general terms,
the associated positive affects are considered likely to include various forms of comfort, pleasure,
interest, confidence and a sense of being in control, and, more specifically, may include the following
feelings: being energised, engaged, affectionately sociable; rewarded maternally, paternally or as
Animals 2017,7, 60 6 of 20
a group when caring for young; and being nurtured, secure or protected, excitedly joyful, and/or
sexually gratified (Figure 1) [5,21,22].
Providing improved or enriched external circumstances enables animals to exercise agency
with potentially positive affective outcomes; i.e., they have greater opportunities to engage in
voluntary, self-generated and goal-directed behaviours that they may find rewarding [
12
,
44
,
45
].
Such improvements or enrichments may focus on very few activities; some may be intermittently
applied to retain novelty and interest over time; they may involve a range of features thereby providing
a wider choice of pleasurable opportunities at any one time; and/or the animals may be given
access to stimulus-rich natural environments which they demonstrably find engaging (e.g., [
34
,
46
]).
Thus, improving or enriching impoverished external circumstances can lead to some situation-related
negative affects being replaced by positive ones [
20
22
]. The valence of the full spectrum of such
situation-related affects encompasses the negative-through-neutral-to-positive range (Figure 2) [5,20].
2.3. Interactions between Negative Survival-Critical and Positive Situation-Related Affects
There are potential interactions between the negative affects generated by physical/functional
imbalances or disruptions, captured by Domains 1 to 3, and the motivation of animals to engage in
rewarding behaviour, captured by Domain 4 [
12
,
37
]. When the intensity of such negative affects
is significant (Domain 5), animals usually do not engage in rewarding behaviours even when
opportunities to do so are available (Figure 2) [5,12,37].
2.4. Neuroscience Support for the Identification of Particular Affects
An increasing understanding of the brain processing that underlies aversive and rewarding
experiences and their manifestation as specific affects (e.g., [
16
,
47
]) provides support for cautiously
inferring that specific internal states and/or expressed behaviours are suggestive of animals
experiencing particular negative or positive affective states. Thus, a considerable amount of evidence
from what has come to be known as affective neuroscience now supports such inferences, made
cautiously, and thereby successfully challenges accusations of anthropomorphism (see [16]).
As the focus of Model-based welfare assessments is on specific affects, or groups of affects, and their
sources, it is important to consider how well supported are inferences about the presence of each affect.
Confidence in such inferences depends on how well-described the underlying affective neuroscience is,
the specificity of any physical/functional indices and/or the distinctiveness of indicative behaviours,
all evaluated in the context of the animal’s physical, biotic and social environment.
Regarding the negative survival-critical affects, the underlying neuroscience knowledge,
physical/functional indices and behaviours are well demonstrated and allow breathlessness, thirst,
hunger, pain and sickness to be identified (e.g., [
15
,
19
,
20
,
41
,
42
,
48
,
49
]). However, it is not as easy to
distinguish between nausea, dizziness, debility, weakness and sickness unless the specific circumstances
of the animal and/or specific functional indices provide sufficient justification to identify a particular
affect [
15
]. If not, two or more of these affects might be combined, for example, nausea and dizziness or
debility, weakness and sickness, allowing for less specific, but still informative consideration.
In the situation-related category, there are good neuroscience bases for using indicative behaviours
to cautiously distinguish between the negative affects of anxiety, fear, panic, depression, frustration
and anger observed in animals in relation to their particular circumstances (e.g., [
15
,
16
,
47
,
50
54
],
whereas behavioural indices may not enable helplessness, loneliness and/or boredom to be
distinguished as easily. Accordingly, identifying any of the latter group of affects should be done with
even greater caution. This caveat is not intended to cast doubt on their existence; it is just to note that
they may be difficult to identify or distinguish from each other behaviourally.
Regarding positive affects in the situation-related category, affective neuroscience observations
underpin interpretation of particular behaviours as indicating experiences of “positive affective
engagement” [
5
]. More specifically, the neuroscience of reward seeking and generation of positive
affects supports the interpretation that animals will likely have pleasurable experiences when engaged
Animals 2017,7, 60 7 of 20
in the following behaviours [
21
]: positively motivated environmental exploration and food acquisition
activities; bonding and bond affirmation; maternal, paternal or group care of young; play behaviour;
and sexual activity (e.g., [16,17,5561]).
3. Examples of States, Situations, Affects and Domain Interactions Relevant to Utilisation of
the Model
In addition to showing the structure of the Model, Figure 1also provides numerous examples
within each domain. These examples are indicative, not definitive or comprehensive. Each example
should be assessed by reference to the animals’ species-specific behaviour, biology and ecology
considered in relation to their specific physical, biotic and social environment. The examples in
Figure 1may therefore be retained, deleted or amended, and/or others added as deemed appropriate
for each species (e.g., [37]).
Affects considered to be associated with physical/functional states that may be normal, disrupted or
out of balance, and/or affects associated with behaviours that may indicate impeded, unimpeded or
enhanced exercise of agency (see Figure 1), should be included only when there is credible scientific
support for their alignment with those states or behaviours. In the absence of such support, inferences
about such affects should be avoided. For example, this might rule out confident speculation about
the precise affective experiences that may be generated by sensory inputs that have no known human
equivalent, such as those associated with echolocation and hearing in the ultrasonic range. Note, it is
not suggested that there is no affective impact of such sensory inputs; rather that understanding the
precise nature of the affects remains problematic.
The dynamically integrated functionality of the whole body (already noted) means that
some factors considered in welfare assessments will interact across domains. This is inevitable.
Three examples of survival-critical factors illustrate this:
1.
Feeding levels (Domain 1) that otherwise minimise hunger (Domain 5) would be inadequate
when animals need to forage over long distances on sparse pasture and fail to meet the additional
energy intakes required to support that exercise (Domain 4);
2.
Cold ambient conditions that increase energy demands for heat production (Domain 2) in animals
otherwise fed at adequate levels (Domain 1) would likely add chilling discomfort to elevated
intensities of hunger (Domain 5);
3.
Respiratory discomfort, for example breathlessness (Domain 5), may be due to atmospheric
pollutants (e.g., ammonia) (Domain 2), lung pathology (e.g., pneumonia) (Domain 3) or sustained
exercise at the upper limit of athletic capacity (e.g., escape from predators; racing at near
maximum speed) (Domain 4), where the precise aetiology in each case would differ.
Although consideration of the welfare impacts of situation-related behaviours has been assigned
primarily to Domain 4 of the Model, survival-critical behaviours aligned with situations relevant to
Domains 1 to 3 are also important, as illustrated by the following three examples [12]:
1.
Water-seeking and drinking motivated by thirst and foraging/hunting motivated by hunger are
behaviours relevant to Domain 1;
2.
Seeking out warm or cool environmental locations and/or adopting appropriate
thermoregulatory postures in them are behaviours relevant to Domain 2;
3.
Withdrawal from and/or avoidance of injurious stimuli that cause pain are behaviours of
relevance to Domain 3.
The Model design facilitates identification of such cross-domain interactions, so that users should
remain flexible in their allocation of specific factors to each domain, guided by common sense and
scientific knowledge. Arguments based on rigid allocation of a factor to a particular domain are
avoided by ensuring that, in each situation, each factor and its aligned specific affects are considered
Animals 2017,7, 60 8 of 20
only once. Recall that the Five Domains Model is a facilitatory device. Its flexibility is a major strength.
It is not a rigid construct that must be adhered to dogmatically.
4. Key Model Applications
The primary role of the Model is identification of key internal and external factors that contribute
to the generation of specific negative and positive affects of welfare significance to provide a basis
for systematic, structured, comprehensive and coherent animal welfare assessment. Aligned with
this role are seven overlapping major applications of the Model that support effective animal
welfare management.
4.1. Application 1: The Model Specifies Key General Foci for Animal Welfare Management
The Model directs attention towards general areas of welfare concern related to negative affects
and/or towards opportunities for welfare enhancement related to positive affects. It is by highlighting
the internal and/or external origins of these affects that the Model provides guidance regarding the
general targets for animal welfare management activity. In practical terms, meeting these welfare
management targets involves husbandry and veterinary activities, the availability of resources and
the suitability of facilities, collectively known as the Provisions [
2
]. These Provisions were updated
recently [
6
], such that the first four align with the physical/functional domains of the 2015 Model
(Figure 1) [
12
] and reflect the four principles of the European Welfare Quality (WQ
®
)
system [62,63]
.
They are designated “good nutrition”, “good environment”, “good health” and “appropriate behaviour”.
These Provisions represent the key general foci of animal welfare management. The fifth Provision,
designated “positive mental experiences” [
6
], aligns with Domain 5 of the Model (Figure 1) and
emphasises the promotion of positive welfare states. Accordingly, the motivation for taking required
welfare-focused actions and the general direction of these actions are based on understanding the
origins of specific affects (see Application 2). However, their practical management is achieved through
knowledgeable interventions focused on the first four updated Provisions [
5
,
6
]. Thus, it is not necessary
to be able to measure affects directly to manage them practically [5].
4.2. Application 2: Model Use Highlights the Foundations of Specific Welfare Management Objectives
Survival-critical negative affects, the negativity of which is essential to create a sense of urgency
or a compulsion for animals to engage in behaviours directed at acquiring life-sustaining resources
(e.g., oxygen, water, food) and/or avoiding or minimising potentially fatal threats (e.g., injury, food
poisoning, infection), can never be eliminated [
5
,
25
]. Thus, the specific welfare objective related to
these affects (Figures 1and 2) is to apply animal care strategies that reduce their intensities and
occurrence to low/tolerable levels that nevertheless still motivate the essential behaviours when they
are needed [
12
,
20
]. Minimising these affects does not, in and of itself, lead to a positive net welfare
balance, but it may reduce the inhibitory effects they may have on animals’ motivation to engage in
rewarding behaviours (see below) [
12
,
20
,
37
]. The valence of these survival-critical affects resides in the
negative-to-neutral range (Figure 2).
Situation-related negative affects relate to animals’ perception of their external circumstances and
are linked especially to isolation, low stimulation, inadequate space, threat, and/or to restrictions on
the exercise of agency [
21
]. Their valence resides in the negative-to-neutral range (Figure 2). The specific
welfare objective related to these negative affects is to replace them with positive affects by improving
or enriching the animals’ environment in ways that provide greater opportunities for them to engage
in behaviours they find rewarding [12,21,22].
Situation-related positive affects relate to animals’ perception of external circumstances that enable
them to experience various forms of comfort, pleasure, interest and confidence, as well as a sense
of being in control through the exercise of agency and the utilisation of opportunities to engage
in rewarding behaviours [
20
,
21
]. The valence of these affects resides in the neutral-to-positive range
(Figure 2).
Animals 2017,7, 60 9 of 20
As already noted (Section 2.3), survival-critical negative affects and situation-related positive affects
may interact. When the intensity of one or more of the former negative affects is above tolerable
levels, this may demotivate animals from utilising existing opportunities to engage in behaviours
(e.g., exploring, foraging/hunting, affirming bonds, playing) that would likely be accompanied by
positive affective experiences (Figure 2) [12,37].
In summary, the key objectives of animal welfare management that determine the specific practical
applications of the Provisions are both to minimise negative survival-critical and situation-related
affective experiences, and to provide opportunities for animals to have positive situation-related
affective experiences [
12
,
20
22
]. More specifically, keeping survival-critical negative affects at
low/tolerable levels that nevertheless still motivate the required behaviours is important to reduce the
intensity of those particular forms of welfare compromise in their own right. However, this is doubly
important because it also helps to minimise the potential inhibitory impacts that these negative affects
may have on animals’ motivation to engage in rewarding behaviours. Finally, providing animals with
opportunities to engage in such rewarding behaviours is important to enable situation-related negative
affects to be replaced with positive ones (Sections 2.2 and 2.4), because this is a major way the overall
welfare state of animals can be improved [12,20].
4.3. Application 3: Model Use Helps to Identify Previously Unrecognised Features of Poor and Good Welfare
In the past, and still today, it is common to describe exceptionally unpleasant experiences using
the catch-all term “suffering”, where “suffering” has been taken to include, for example, “pain”,
“mental cruelty”, “discomfort” and “distress” [
2
,
11
,
12
,
64
,
65
]. Yet these descriptors, including “pain”,
which in fact has many manifestations [
15
], are as imprecise as the term “suffering” when considering
what specific affects may be involved (e.g., breathlessness, thirst, hunger, nausea, sickness, fear, panic),
and in that sense they are all generic. It is more informative when deciding what remedial actions
should be taken to have a capacity to identify what specific affects are contributing to the negative
states under consideration. Accordingly, the 2009 version of the Model was formulated to draw
attention to a wider range of negative affective experiences, which, when at intensities greater than
tolerable levels, may represent specific forms of “suffering” or “distress” [
11
,
29
]. As already noted,
the most recent version of the Model [
12
] also includes a range of positive experiences related to
animals’ comfort, pleasure, interest and confidence, as well as to their sense of being in control through
the exercise of agency and the utilisation of opportunities to engage in rewarding behaviours [20,21].
Thus, the numerous examples of internal states and external circumstances, and their potentially
aligned affective experiences now incorporated in the Model, draw attention to wide ranges of specific
negative and/or positive welfare-relevant experiences (Figure 1). This has three beneficial outcomes
which support Applications 1 and 2, namely: (1) the Model alerts managers and animal care staff to
a wide range of welfare-relevant states and situations and the aligned experiences animals may have
which they would not previously have considered; (2) when corrective action is required, the Model
enables remedies to be more specifically focused, thereby improving the likelihood of expeditious
beneficial outcomes; and (3) the Model potentially engenders greater empathy towards animals,
thereby directing more attention towards their care and not merely to their routine maintenance.
Animals 2017,7, 60 10 of 20
4.4. Application 4: Model Use Enables the Monitoring of Responses to Specific Welfare-Focused Remedial
Interventions and/or Maintenance Activities
As an extension of Application 3, repeated assessments using the Model potentially enable
monitoring of change in all identifiable welfare-significant attributes, whether they are negative or
positive (e.g., [
37
]). Thus, deterioration, improvement or stability of these specific attributes may
be followed over time and the effectiveness or otherwise of the related management interventions
may be evaluated. Note, however, that such monitoring and management can be applied only to
those attributes that can be identified specifically under the circumstances in which the monitoring
takes place. For example, remote visual observation of appearance, demeanour and behaviour may
limit, and detailed hands-on physical/physiological/clinical monitoring may extend, the range of
welfare-relevant attributes that can be assessed.
4.5. Application 5: Model Use Facilitates Qualitative Grading of Specific Features of Welfare Compromise
and/or Enhancement
Animal welfare monitoring (Application 4) requires a capacity to grade the attributes of
interest. Accordingly, grading systems have been incorporated into the Model from its original
formulation [1,1013,37]
. The bases for grading welfare compromise and enhancement differ as the
defining point of reference for compromise is “suffering” and its mitigation, and for enhancement the
focus is on animals’ utilisation of opportunities to experience “positive affective engagement” [
12
,
20
].
Thus, the corresponding welfare impact scales also differ, as will now be described.
4.5.1. Grading Welfare Compromise
Compromise may be graded using a five-tier scale (A to E), where grades A and B represent no
and tolerably low intensity negative affects, respectively, grade E represents exceptionally unpleasant
experiences manifested as negative affects at very high intensities, and grades C and D represent
intermediate levels (Table 1). These grades therefore equate to different degrees of welfare compromise
ranging from none to very severe [
11
]. Examples of full Model-based grading of multiple negative affects
aligned with Domains 1 to 4 in different contexts have been published
elsewhere [1,11,26,27,31,36,37,43]
,
and examples restricted to single Domains are provided here (Table 1).
Grades for compromise related to specific affects are distinguished largely according to the
following three criteria: (1) the severity of the physical/functional impacts and of unpleasant external
circumstances in Domains 1 to 4; (2) the related intensity and duration of the inferred affective impacts
and their reversibility; and (3) whether or not these impacts may need to be urgently mitigated and/or
ended by relocation to more benign conditions, by animal care or veterinary therapeutic interventions,
and/or by euthanasia [11].
Note that simply because a five-tier scale is notionally available, this does not necessarily mean
that grading different features of welfare compromise can be achieved with the degree of precision
implied by that number of tiers (e.g., Table 1). For example, when information is sparse or contradictory
it may only be possible to distinguish between “no to low”, “moderate” and “severe” compromise,
or, at its simplest, when a particular form of compromise is either “absent” or “present” [
12
,
31
,
32
,
36
].
Note also that numerical grading was explicitly rejected to avoid facile, non-reflective averaging of
“scores” as a substitute for considered judgment and to avoid implying, unrealistically, that much
greater precision is achievable than is possible with such qualitative assessments [1,13].
Animals 2017,7, 60 11 of 20
Table 1.
Model-based grading of animal welfare compromise related to particular challenges. The examples refer to specific indices and inferred affects considered in
relation to Domains 1 to 4, except for toxicity testing in Domain 3 where the observed indices and inferred affects are generalised. Example animals include livestock,
working animals, pets, “pests” and laboratory animals. Note that, theoretically, Model-based grading may be applied to any vertebrate where scientific understanding
is sufficient to support the meaningful use of particular indices. Note also that the primary purpose here is to illustrate how specific attributes may be graded. It is
not to demonstrate a full Model-based assessment of compromise involving grading of the multiple attributes covered via Domains 1 to 4 and their inferred affects
via Domain 5, all considered together (Figure 1). Details of such full assessments have been published elsewhere [
26
28
,
35
37
]. Finally, note that “A: none” on the
compromise scale does not imply welfare enhancement (see Table 2).
Animal Welfare Challenge Compromise Grade
A: None B: Low C: Mild to Moderate D: Marked to Severe E: Very Severe
Domain 1: Nutrition
Access to water in livestock, pets,
working animals, etc.: Water freely available: 12-h interruption in water
supply, cold weather:
24-h interruption in water
supply; hot weather:
Within-group competition
for limited water long term:
Water not available
(supply failure, drought):
Availability; inferred thirst No to very low-level thirst Low-level thirst Moderate thirst Severe thirst Extreme thirst
Feeding level in sheep: Good-level and stable
body condition (3/5):
Mid-level and stable
body condition (2.5/5):
Mid-level body condition
(2.5/5), slowly decreasing:
Rapidly decreasing or low-level
body condition (1.5/5):
Very low body condition
(0.5/5)—emaciated:
Body condition score;
inferred hunger No to very low-level hunger Low-level hunger Moderate hunger Severe hunger Extreme hunger
Domain 2: Environment
Heat load in sheep: Panting;
inferred hyperthermic distress
Ambient conditions
thermoneutral:
High radiant load,
temperature, humidity:
Extreme radiant load,
temperature, humidity:
No panting Closed mouth panting Open mouth panting
No hyperthermic distress Mild to moderate distress Very severe distress
Air quality in housed pigs:
NH4levels; inferred eye
and nasal irritation
Good ventilation, fresh air:
No eye/nasal irritation
Ventilation poor: Ventilation very poor:
NH410–15 ppm NH4greater than 25 ppm
Mild eye/nasal irritation Marked eye/nasal irritation
Domain 3: Health
Amputation dehorning in calves: Nerve blockade plus
systemic analgesic: Nerve blockade alone or systemic analgesic alone: No pain relief:
Acute cortisol stress
response; inferred pain
Complete pain relief Partial pain relief
Very low stress response Moderate to marked stress response Very marked stress response
Little or no acute pain Moderate to marked acute pain Very marked acute pain
Impeded breathing in dogs:
Exercise intolerance;
inferred breathlessness
Normal or long-nosed: Moderately snub-nosed: Severely snub-nosed:
Exercise tolerant,
breathing normal
Brief exercise bouts ended
by laboured breathing
Laboured breathing at rest,
totally exercise intolerant
No breathlessness Moderate breathlessness Very severe breathlessness
Animals 2017,7, 60 12 of 20
Table 1. Cont.
Animal Welfare Challenge Compromise Grade
A: None B: Low C: Mild to Moderate D: Marked to Severe E: Very Severe
Toxicity testing in pest
and laboratory animals: Non-toxic substances: Low toxicity substances: Mildly toxic substances: Markedly toxic substances: Highly toxic substances:
Untoward organ-specific
clinical signs; various affects No untoward clinical signs Minor/short lived clinical
signs, then recovery
Moderate/short lived or
minor/longer lived clinical
signs, then recovery
Marked/short lived or
moderate/longer lived
clinical signs, then recovery
Extreme clinical signs, followed
by death while conscious
Domain 4: Behaviour
Tethering/caging of dogs: Not tethered/caged: Tethered/caged
25% of the time:
Tethered/caged
50% of the time:
Tethered/caged
75% of the time:
Tethered/caged
100% of the time:
Exercise limitation; inferred
boredom/depression
Exercise not limited Some boredom/depression Medium boredom/depression Marked boredom/depression Severe boredom/depression
No boredom/depression
Handling livestock: Calm, tamed, trained and
fully compliant animals:
Feedlot animals with
regular human contact:
Paddock animals with some
human contact:
Range animals with little prior
human contact:
Feral/wild animals with no
prior human contact:
Prior contact; restraint level;
induced cortisol stress
response; inferred fear
Gentle handling Need light restraint Need firm restraint Need strong restraint Need very strong restraint
No response and fear Low response and fear Moderate response and fear Marked response and fear Extreme response and fear
Relevant major sources: [5,6,12,1618,2022,29,34,44,46,5659,61,6690].
Animals 2017,7, 60 13 of 20
4.5.2. Grading Enhanced Welfare
Enhancement is graded using a four-tier scale (0, +, ++, +++), modified from that developed
by Edgar and colleagues [
87
], where the tiers represent “no”, “low-level”, “medium-level” and
“high-level” enhancement, respectively (Table 2) [
12
]. The conceptual framework underpinning
application of this scale has three key elements. The first is the availability of opportunities for animals
to engage in self-motivated rewarding behaviours, and the second is the animals’ actual utilisation
of those opportunities. Grading opportunity and use separately helpfully provides more detail to
underpin the third element; i.e., the making of cautious judgements about degrees of “positive affective
engagement”. Once graded, such positive engagement is taken to be equivalent to the graded extent
of welfare enhancement for each of the affects inferred to be experienced [
20
]. Examples of grading are
provided elsewhere [12], as also in Table 2.
Thus, three interacting scales representing opportunity,utilisation and enhancement are employed
where the tiers for each are “0”, “+”, “++” and “+++”. A full explanation of potential interactions
between the three scales is provided elsewhere (Mellor and Beausoleil 2015), as are some
examples [12,37]
.
Key points to note here are as follows:
1. Opportunity constrains use and therefore use cannot be graded higher than opportunity;
2. For all opportunity grades above zero, use may be graded as equal to or less than opportunity;
3.
Use constrains welfare enhancement so that an absence of use precludes enhancement related to
the opportunity not utilised;
4.
Each use grade above zero, once cautiously interpreted in terms of the possible extent of “positive
affective engagement”, is assigned an equal grade on the welfare enhancement scale;
5.
Grading the extent of “positive affective engagement” is based on cautious inferences regarding
observed behaviours that indicate animals exercising agency in particular ways. Expressed in
general terms, the associated positive affects are likely to include various forms of comfort,
pleasure, interest, confidence and a sense of control.
Importantly, behavioural-neuroscience evidence suggests that such agency-expressive behaviours
(Figure 1) are likely to be affectively rewarding (e.g., [
21
,
22
,
45
]), a conclusion supported by behavioural
science observation of animals’ preferences, aversions and priorities (e.g., [45,91,92]).
Rewarding behaviours may arise when the key attributes of animals’ environments include,
but are not limited to, the following (Figure 1) (Table 2) [5,12,46]:
1. Variability that provides a congenial balance between predictability and unpredictability;
2. Access to preferred sites for resting, thermal comfort and voiding excrement;
3.
Environmental choices that encourage exploratory and food acquisition behaviours which
are enjoyable;
4. Availability of a variety of feeds having pleasurable smells, tastes and textures; and
5.
Circumstances that enable social species to engage in bonding and bond affirming activities and,
as appropriate, other affiliative interactions such as maternal, paternal or group care of young,
play behaviour and sexual activity.
Animals 2017,7, 60 14 of 20
Table 2.
Grading of animal welfare enhancement via opportunities to engage in an increasing range of rewarding behaviours in each of Domains 1 to 4. The grades
relate to the observed utilisation of available opportunities to experience various forms of comfort, pleasure, interest, confidence and a sense of being in control, so that
the primary indices are behavioural (Domain 4). Example animals are livestock (Domain 1), pigs and laboratory animals (Domain 2), and a wide range of terrestrial
mammals (Domains 3 and 4). The primary purpose here is to illustrate how various combinations of Domain-related specific opportunities may be graded, not to
demonstrate a full Model-based assessment of enhancement involving the multiple opportunities covered via Domains 1 to 4 and their inferred affects via Domain 5,
all considered together (Figure 1). Details of such full assessments related mainly to mammals have been published elsewhere [
12
,
37
]. Note that key features of
a three-tier system for welfare enhancement in poultry [
87
] could provide a basis for modifying the Five Domains Model to more directly include avian species in
its applications.
Domain Animal Welfare Enhancement Opportunities
None (o) Low-Level (+) Mid-Level (++) High-Level (+++)
Domain 1: Nutrition Quantity and quality
meet functional needs
Quantity and quality meet functional needs Quantity and quality meet functional needs Quantity and quality meet functional needs
Livestock fed indoors
and/or outdoors
Diet components and
palatability constant
over long periods
Very limited choice among diets with
pleasant smells, tastes and textures via food
supplements or outdoor seasonal changes
Moderate choice among varied diets
with pleasant smells, tastes and textures
available indoors and/or outdoors
Widely varied diets enabling choices
between pleasant food smells, tastes and
textures in engagingly different locations
Domain 2: Environment
Monotonous ambient,
physical and lighting
conditions
Marginal increase in space
allows freer movement
Moderate increase in space allows greater
separation between resting animals
Space sufficient for separate eating,
resting and dunging sites
Groups of pigs kept indoors Limited space restricts
animals’ activities Deep, clean, dry floor substrate Deep, clean, dry floor substrate Space for calm social interaction
Groups of laboratory
animals kept indoors Bare floor Refuges
Deep, clean, dry floor substrate;
Refuges Air temperature variations
aid comfortable thermoregulation
Domain 3: Health Good health actively maintained: Good health actively maintained:
A wide range of mammals: Disinhibited from engaging
in rewarding behaviours
Disinhibited from engaging
in rewarding behaviours
Health management; Exercise opportunities help
maintain good physical fitness
Degree of physical fitness
Domain 4: Behaviour Limited opportunities for positively Greater opportunities for positively Diverse opportunities for positively
A wide range of mammals: motivated exploration, food acquisition, motivated exploration, food acquisition, motivated exploration, food acquisition,
Rewarding behaviours bonding, care of young,
play or sexual activity
bonding, care of young,
play or sexual activity
bonding, care of young,
play or sexual activity
Relevant major sources: [1,5,6,9,12,1416,2022,32,36,41,42,46,48,53,54,6686].
Animals 2017,7, 60 15 of 20
4.6. Application 6: Model Use Facilitates Both Prospective and Retrospective Animal Welfare Assessments
The Model has been used prospectively to assess bad and/or good welfare impacts of proposed
new or modified approaches to managing, housing and/or interacting with farm [
11
,
33
], working [
37
],
zoo [
11
,
30
], “pest” [
26
28
,
31
,
32
,
35
,
36
], research [
10
,
29
] and other animals [
11
]. Moreover, in line with
the Model’s original purpose [
1
], its prospective use to assess potential negative impacts of research,
teaching and testing manipulations has been a mandatory part of New Zealand’s code of ethical
conduct and animal ethics committee system for regulating animal-based science since 1997 [13].
The Model is also well suited to retrospective welfare analyses to help focus attention on
areas of concern and to guide the implementation of remedies [
12
,
31
,
32
,
35
37
], including ways of
promoting positive welfare states [
18
,
20
22
,
87
]. Retrospective evaluation of predicted negative welfare
outcomes of particular activities, for example, research, teaching and testing manipulation of sentient
animals, also helpfully provides a check on such predictions and, with or without modification,
adds weight to such prospective assessments in future [
1
,
13
]. Canadian experience shows that such
retrospective assessments using the Model can also enhance the preparation of expert opinions related
to prosecutions for serious welfare offences by highlighting scientifically supported connections
between indicative physical/functional states and behaviours and their aligned negative affective
experiences in ill-treated animals [93].
Finally, combining retrospective and prospective analyses to assess an animal’s current and
likely future welfare status, i.e., its quality of life [
7
,
9
,
12
,
25
], could facilitate end-of-life decisions in
a wide range of species and circumstances, because such a use of the Model makes available helpful
information for inclusion in the decision-making process (see Application 7).
4.7. Application 7: Model Use Facilitates Consideration of Quality of Life (QoL)
By incorporating both negative and positive welfare-relevant experiences, the Model has clear
application to consideration of QoL, which, conceptually at least, refers to the net negative-positive
affective balance an animal may experience over an extended period of time [
9
,
25
,
37
,
68
,
85
,
87
,
94
,
95
].
Although the Model can be used to grade both welfare compromise and enhancement, represented as
a combined symbol for the factors identified, as briefly explained above (Application 5) and illustrated
in more detail elsewhere [
12
,
37
], that combined symbol is not an all-inclusive metric for QoL. There are
six interacting reasons for this [12,25,32,68,88,94,95]:
1.
The grading of welfare compromise or enhancement is limited to the specific affects inferred
to be elicited by the particular internal states or external circumstances that can be identified
practically using the indices that are available to be applied in each case, which potentially leaves
unassessed welfare relevant factors that cannot be identified in those cases;
2.
The relative impacts of each negative affect, of each positive affect, and between specific negative and
positive affects, are not known; nor are the relative impacts of each such affect within individuals
over time or between individual animals;
3.
Also unknown are the impacts on the animals’ current and future perceptions of their prior
affective experiences, which might have been negative, positive, short-lived, protracted, and/or
of low or high intensity;
4.
The conceptual foundations for the grading of key elements of compromised and enhanced
welfare differ, and are therefore not strictly comparable;
5.
The grading of each affect is ordinal, i.e., qualitative, which precludes quantitative comparisons;
6.
Each welfare assessment using the Model relates to the animal’s state at the time, and although
repeated assessments can provide information about changes in specific elements of welfare over
the period observed (e.g., [
37
]), the other impediments to an all-inclusive QoL assessment remain.
Nevertheless, recall that when the intensity of one or more of the survival-critical negative affects is
significant, animals are often demotivated from utilising existing opportunities to engage in behaviours
Animals 2017,7, 60 16 of 20
that would be accompanied by situation-related positive affects (Figure 2) [
5
,
12
,
37
]. This could be
informative with regard to end-of-life decision-making. For example, such demotivation may occur
in cases where specific areas of significant welfare compromise and their aligned negative affects
have been identified, and where there is evidence that the animal rarely, if ever, engages in rewarding
behaviours it had enjoyed previously. Clearly, this would be helpful adjunct information about key
elements of the animal’s QoL that might support a decision to euthanase it. Conversely, evidence that
an animal spontaneously or with encouragement regularly engages in behaviours it obviously finds
pleasurable might support a decision not to euthanase it [37].
5. Conclusions
The utility of the Five Domains Model for animal welfare assessment is based on validated scientific
foundations of the physical/functional and behavioural indices of negative affects aligned with welfare
compromise and positive affects aligned with welfare enhancement. The wide range of affects now
identified for consideration and the configuration of the domains that was designed specifically to
clarify the likely sources of those affects, together enable Model-based welfare assessments to be
structured, systematic, comprehensive and coherent. Seven interacting applications of the Model
have been described as having the following beneficial objectives—they specify key general foci for
animal welfare management; highlight the foundations of specific welfare management objectives;
enable monitoring of responses to specific welfare-focused remedial interventions and/or maintenance
activities; identify previously unrecognised features of poor and good welfare; facilitate qualitative
grading of specific features of welfare compromise and/or enhancement; enable both prospective and
retrospective animal welfare assessments to be conducted; and provide adjunct information to support
consideration of QoL evaluations in the context of end-of-life decisions. Nevertheless, it is important not
to overstate what utilisation of the Model can achieve. Constraints arise through the following factors:
different levels of confidence with which particular affects may be inferred to be present in different
circumstances; the necessary focus only on the specific affects that can be identified; differing precision
with which each affect may be graded; and the limits imposed by an inability to determine the relative
impacts of different affects when evaluating the notional overall negative-positive affective balance
represented by QoL, thereby precluding the possibility of elaborating an all-inclusive QoL metric.
Acknowledgments:
The author wishes to thank the numerous colleagues and friends nationally and
internationally with whom discussion has helped to hone these ideas, in particular Massey University colleagues
Ngaio Beausoleil, Craig Johnson and Kat Littlewood, and Nicolas de Graaff based at the Zoo and Aquarium
Association in Sydney, Australia, but, of course, the author accept entire responsibility for the content of this paper.
The practical assistance from Michal Dunn and Briar Graham who provided library support and Quentin Roper
who prepared the figures is also warmly acknowledged.
Conflicts of Interest: The author declares no conflict of interest.
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    This review outlines the processes followed by New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) when developing its Thoroughbred Welfare Assessment Guidelines. It accepted that guidance on welfare management must be based on up-to-date knowledge of how animal welfare is understood scientifically. NZTR established an expert panel to facilitate this process. First, major changes in animal welfare science thinking over the last 40 years were considered. For example, the separate biological function and affective state orientations were later accepted as dynamically interacting elements within the body operating as an integrated whole entity; conceptual problems with the Five Freedoms framework led to the formulation of the Five Provisions and Welfare Aims paradigm and development of the Five Domains Model for assessing nutritional, environmental, health, behavioural and mental facets of animal welfare; and the initial major focus on negative experiences evolved to include both negative and positive experiences. The Five Domains Model was very effective for illustrating up-to-date understanding of animal welfare and its use demonstrated how comprehensive animal welfare assessments may be conducted. The NZTR panel followed a sequential approach that included an update on animal welfare thinking and the Five Provisions and Welfare Aims paradigm; the generic Five Domains Model was refocused specifically on equids; a detailed model assessment of equine welfare practices was conducted; enhanced equine welfare practices were emphasised by comparing them to inadequate welfare practices; guidelines were framed in terms which provide domain-specific advice on provisions that achieve positive welfare; other domain-specific guidelines were focused on welfare-compromising consequences of inadequate provisions; and welfare-appropriate conditions were clarified for all stages of a Thoroughbred’s life cycle (in work and rest) to facilitate exercising a life-long duty of care. Finally, the guidelines were expressed in general terms to avoid them becoming overly detailed and unwieldy. They therefore do not address specific welfare issues such as use of whips, bits, spurs and tight nosebands, however the Five Domains Model may also be used for these specific purposes. The guidelines, and the way they were formulated, provide an example of one approach which other organisations may find immediately useful, or which may stimulate them to devise their own approaches when progressing such equine welfare initiatives.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Extensive numbers of Ball pythons are caught, bred, traded and subsequently kept in captivity across the world as part of the exotic pet industry. Despite their widespread availability as pets, relatively little is known about the potential welfare challenges affecting them. We reviewed the literature for research focused on the health and welfare of Ball pythons in the international pet trade. From a total of 88 articles returned from the search criteria, our analysis showed that very few actually focused on trade (10%) or animal welfare (17%). Instead, the majority (64%) of articles focused on veterinary science. There was a considerable bias towards physical health, with most studies neglecting the four other domains of animal welfare (behaviour, nutrition, environment and mental health). Furthermore, very few studies considered Ball pythons prior to resulting pet ownership, during wild capture and transportation or captive breeding operations. Our review demonstrates that our current understanding of welfare for Ball pythons traded as exotic pets is limited. We recommend that future research should focus on aspects of the industry that are currently overlooked, including the potential consequences of genetic selection during captive-breeding and the conditions provided for snakes prior to and during international transportation.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Knowledge of the welfare status of wild animals is vital for informing debates about the ways in which we interact with wild animals and their habitats. Currently, there is no published information about how to scientifically assess the welfare of free-roaming wild animals during their normal day-to-day lives. Using free-roaming horses as an example, we describe a ten-stage protocol for systematically and scientifically assessing the welfare of individual non-captive wild animals. The protocol starts by emphasising the importance of readers having an understanding of animal welfare in a conservation context and also of the Five Domains Model for assessing welfare. It goes on to detail what species-specific information is required to assess welfare, how to identify measurable and observable indicators of animals’ physical states and how to identify which individuals are being assessed. Further, it addresses how to select appropriate methods for measuring/observing physical indicators of welfare, the scientific validation of these indicators and then the grading of animals’ welfare states, along with assigning a confidence score. Finally, grading future welfare risks and how these can guide management decisions is discussed. Applying this ten-stage protocol will enable biologists to scientifically assess the welfare of wild animals and should lead to significant advances in the field of wild animal welfare.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Simple Summary Horses have superior athletic capabilities due largely to their exceptional cardiorespiratory responses during exercise. This has particular relevance to horses’ potential to experience breathlessness, especially when their athletic performance is reduced by impaired respiratory function. Breathlessness, incorporating three types of unpleasant experiences, has been noted as of significant animal welfare concern in other mammals. However, the potential for breathlessness to occur in horses as usually ridden wearing bitted bridles has not yet been evaluated in detail. Accordingly, key physiological responses to exercise and the consequences of impaired respiratory function are outlined. Then the physiological control of breathing and the generation of the aversive experiences of breathlessness are explained. Finally, the potential for horses with unimpaired and impaired respiratory function to experience the different types of breathlessness is evaluated. This information provides a basis for considering the circumstances in which breathlessness may have significant negative welfare impacts on horses as currently ridden wearing bitted bridles. Potential beneficial impacts on respiratory function of using bitless bridles are then discussed with emphasis on the underlying mechanisms and their relevance to breathlessness. It is noted that direct comparisons of cardiorespiratory responses to exercise in horses wearing bitless and bitted bridles are not available and it is recommended that such studies be undertaken. Abstract Horses engaged in strenuous exercise display physiological responses that approach the upper functional limits of key organ systems, in particular their cardiorespiratory systems. Maximum athletic performance is therefore vulnerable to factors that diminish these functional capacities, and such impairment might also lead to horses experiencing unpleasant respiratory sensations, i.e., breathlessness. The aim of this review is to use existing literature on equine cardiorespiratory physiology and athletic performance to evaluate the potential for various types of breathlessness to occur in exercising horses. In addition, we investigate the influence of management factors such as rein and bit use and of respiratory pathology on the likelihood and intensity of equine breathlessness occurring during exercise. In ridden horses, rein use that reduces the jowl angle, sometimes markedly, and conditions that partially obstruct the nasopharynx and/or larynx, impair airflow in the upper respiratory tract and lead to increased flow resistance. The associated upper airway pressure changes, transmitted to the lower airways, may have pathophysiological sequelae in the alveolae, which, in their turn, may increase airflow resistance in the lower airways and impede respiratory gas exchange. Other sequelae include decreases in respiratory minute volume and worsening of the hypoxaemia, hypercapnia and acidaemia commonly observed in healthy horses during strenuous exercise. These and other factors are implicated in the potential for ridden horses to experience three forms of breathlessness—”unpleasant respiratory effort”, “air hunger” and “chest tightness”—which arise when there is a mismatch between a heightened ventilatory drive and the adequacy of the respiratory response. It is not known to what extent, if at all, such mismatches would occur in strenuously exercising horses unhampered by low jowl angles or by pathophysiological changes at any level of the respiratory tract. However, different combinations of the three types of breathlessness seem much more likely to occur when pathophysiological conditions significantly reduce maximal athletic performance. Finally, most horses exhibit clear behavioural evidence of aversion to a bit in their mouths, varying from the bit being a mild irritant to very painful. This in itself is a significant animal welfare issue that should be addressed. A further major point is the potential for bits to disrupt the maintenance of negative pressure in the oropharynx, which apparently acts to prevent the soft palate from rising and obstructing the nasopharynx. The untoward respiratory outcomes and poor athletic performance due to this and other obstructions are well established, and suggest the potential for affected animals to experience significant intensities of breathlessness. Bitless bridle use may reduce or eliminate such effects. However, direct comparisons of the cardiorespiratory dynamics and the extent of any respiratory pathophysiology in horses wearing bitted and bitless bridles have not been conducted. Such studies would be helpful in confirming, or otherwise, the claimed potential benefits of bitless bridle use.
  • Article
    Animal welfare monitoring is an essential part of zoo management and a legal requirement in many countries. Historically, a variety of welfare audits have been proposed to assist zoo managers. Unfortunately, there are a number of issues with these assessments, including lack of species information, validated tests and the overall complexity of these audits which make them difficult to implement in practice. The animal welfare assessment grid (AWAG) has previously been proposed as an animal welfare monitoring tool for animals used in research programmes. This computer-based system was successfully adapted for use in a zoo setting with two taxonomic groups: primates and birds. This tool is simple to use and provides continuous monitoring based on cumulative lifetime assessment. It is suggested as an alternative, practical method for welfare monitoring in zoos.
  • Article
    Context. Control of unwanted wildlife ('pest' animals) is undertaken for conservation and economic reasons, and when such animals are considered a nuisance. Such control should be undertaken using approaches that minimise, as far as possible, detrimental impacts on the welfare of the animals. Using a scientific framework based on the Five Domains model, the relative welfare impacts of pest control methods can be compared across methods and pest species. Aims. We demonstrate the application of a modified version of this framework to evaluate the relative impacts of seven Vertebrate Toxic Agents (VTAs) used to control brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) in New Zealand. The evaluation is used to produce a ranking of the seven VTAs based on their relative impacts on possum welfare. Methods. Scientific literature describing mode of toxic action, specific effects in possums or other animals and reports from human poisonings was collated as reference material for a panel of six experts. The panel produced a median welfare impact score ('none' to 'extreme') for each of the Five Domains. The 'Overall Grade' (1 to 8) reflected the intensity and duration of all impacts of a VTA on possums. Key results. All VTAs evaluated have at least moderate impacts on possum welfare, lasting for at least minutes. Cyanide was assessed as having the lowest welfare impacts (median grade 4), and cholecalciferol and the anticoagulants the highest impacts (7.5 to 8). Zinc phosphide was assigned an intermediate grade (6) with high confidence. While the overall impacts of sodium fluoroacetate (1080) and phosphorus were also assessed as intermediate (6), the panel's confidence in these scores was low. Conclusions. From an animal welfare perspective, anticoagulant poisons and cholecalciferol should be the least preferred options for controlling possums in New Zealand, as VTAs with less severe welfare impacts are available. Implications. The results of such assessments allow animal welfare impacts to be integrated with other factors in wildlife management decision-making and policy development, and are thus useful for managers, researchers, regulators and operators. Evaluation of welfare impacts aligns with the goals and mandates of ethical wildlife control and may also be valuable in wider wildlife research and management activities.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Although the Five Freedoms paradigm has been very influential in shaping animal welfare thinking for the last two decades, it has two key disadvantages. First, the focus on "freedom" from a range of negative experiences and states has been misunderstood in a number of quarters to mean that complete freedom from these experiences and states is possible, when in fact the best that can be achieved is for them to be minimised. Second, the major focus of the Freedoms on negative experiences and states is now seen to be a disadvantage in view of current understanding that animal welfare management should also include the promotion of positive experiences and states. The challenge therefore was to formulate a paradigm that overcame these two main problems and yet was straightforward enough to be accessible to non-specialists, including members of the lay public who are interested in animal welfare. This was achieved by highlighting the Five Provisions, originally aligned with the Five Freedoms, but now updated to direct welfare management towards activities that both minimise negative experiences or states and promote positive experiences or states as specified by particular Animal Welfare Aims assigned to each Provision. Aspects of the four welfare principles from the European Welfare Quality assessment system (WQ (®) ) and elements of all domains of the Five Domains Model for animal welfare assessment have been incorporated into the new Five Provisions/Welfare Aims paradigm. Thus, the paradigm is easily understood and provides clear guidance on beneficial objectives for animal welfare management. It is anticipated that the paradigm will have application to many species found in a wide range of circumstances.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Simple Summary: The Five Domains Model is now increasingly used to assess the welfare status of a wide range of species in markedly different circumstances. Particular strengths are that the Model facilitates structured, systematic and comprehensive evaluations of animals' negative and positive mental experiences, the overall balance of which underlies their welfare status or quality of life. Importantly, the Model also clarifies the specific internal and external factors that give rise to those experiences. The welfare evaluation published here is the first to use the most up-to-date version of the Model, and stands as a detailed example that may assist others undertaking such welfare evaluations in other species and contexts. Moreover, it is the first such evaluation of a companion animal. It employs a fictitious scenario involving a working farm dog before, during and after it sustains a serious hind leg injury requiring amputation and its subsequent rehoming as a pet. A wide range of negative and positive experiences are graded, interactions between them are revealed, and the balance between negative and positive states at different stages of the scenario is described. Such Model evaluations can highlight current practices that merit re-evaluation. More generally, when major welfare issues are identified, use of the Model could enhance expert witness participation in related prosecutions by highlighting scientifically supported connections between indicative physical/functional states and behaviours and their associated negative experiences in ill-treated animals. Five Domains Model evaluations can also facilitate quality of life assessments and end-of-life decisions. This article has been published in an open access journal and the full text is freely available online here: http://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/6/9/58
  • Book
    The Sciences of Animal Welfare analyses the diverse, interconnecting subjects which constitute this fascinating multidisciplinary field, whilst also considering the limitations and benefits of those subjects to the development and future of Animal Welfare Science. This book examines past, present and future practices and thinking, including the wide-ranging interests within society that influence attitudes towards animals and conversely how animal welfare scientists may influence those attitudes. Key themes of the book include: • Multi-disciplinary working and its benefits: how we can obtain fresh insights, enliven our thinking and improve animal welfare by operating widely within diverse disciplines • Questioning the fundamental assumptions we each make about animals and their functional capabilities. The authors acknowledge the field’s debt to past successes in animal-based science disciplines, successes that markedly improved animal welfare long before the concept of animal welfare entered common parlance. They also recognise the problems which unexpectedly arose, and anticipate future successes. Suggesting innovative approaches to Animal Welfare Science, and written by world renowned experts, The Sciences of Animal Welfare is essential reading for anyone interested, studying or currently working in Animal Welfare Science
  • Article
    Full-text available
    This opinion paper considers the relative validity and utility of three concepts: the Five Freedoms (FF), Five Domains (FD) and Quality of Life (QoL) as tools for the analysis of animal welfare. The aims of FF and FD are different but complementary. FD seeks to assess the impact of the physical and social environment on the mental (affective) state of a sentient animal, FF is an outcome-based approach to identify and evaluate the efficacy of specific actions necessary to promote well-being. Both have utility. The concept of QoL is presented mainly as a motivational framework. The FD approach provides an effective foundation for research and evidence-based conclusions as to the impact of the things we do on the mental state of the animals in our care. Moreover, it is one that can evolve with time. The FF are much simpler. They do not attempt to achieve an overall picture of mental state and welfare status, but the principles upon which they are based are timeless. Their aim is to be no more than a memorable set of signposts to right action. Since, so far as the animals are concerned, it is not what we think but what we do that counts, I suggest that they are likely to have a more general impact.
  • Article
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    The Five Freedoms have had major impact on animal welfare thinking internationally. However, despite clear initial statements that the words ‘freedom from’ should indicate ‘as free as possible from’, the Freedoms have come to be represented as absolute or fundamental freedoms, even rights, by some animal advocate and other groups. Moreover, a marked increase in scientific understanding over the last two decades shows that the Freedoms do not capture the more nuanced knowledge of the biological processes that is germane to understanding animal welfare and which is now available to guide its management. For example, the named negative experiences of thirst, hunger, discomfort and pain, and others identified subsequently, including breathlessness, nausea, dizziness, debility, weakness and sickness, can never be eliminated, merely temporarily neutralised. Each one is a genetically embedded element that motivates animals to behave in particular ways to obtain specific life-sustaining resources, avoid or reduce physical harm or facilitate recovery from infection or injury. Their undoubted negativity creates a necessary sense of urgency to respond, without which animals would not survive. Also, the temporary neutralisation of these survival-critical affects does not in and of itself generate positive experience. This questions the commonly held assumption that good animal welfare will result when these internally generated negative affects are minimised. Animals may also experience other negative affects that include anxiety, fear, panic, frustration, anger, helplessness, loneliness, boredom and depression. These situation-related affects reflect animals’ perceptions of their external circumstances. Although they are elicited by threatening, cramped, barren and/or isolated conditions, they can often be replaced by positive affects when animals are kept with congenial others in spacious, stimulus-rich and safe environments which provide opportunities for them to engage in behaviours they find rewarding. These behaviours may include environment-focused exploration and food acquisition activities as well as animal-to-animal interactive activities, all of which can generate various forms of comfort, pleasure, interest, confidence and a sense of control. Animal welfare management should aim to reduce the intensity of survival-critical negative affects to tolerable levels that nevertheless still elicit the required behaviours, and should also provide opportunities for animals to behave in ways they find rewarding, noting that poor management of survival-critical affects reduces animals’ motivation to utilize such rewarding opportunities. This biologically more accurate understanding provides support for reviewing the adequacy of provisions in current codes of welfare or practice in order to ensure that animals are given greater opportunities to experience positive welfare states. The purpose is to help animals to have lives worth living, which is not possible when the predominant focus of such codes is on survival-critical measures. Finally, an updated characterisation of animal welfare that incorporates this more accurate understanding is presented.