Good animal welfare is necessary if an agricultural system is to be sustainable. Although we have been concerned about the welfare of our animals since we first domesticated them and became dependent on their health and reproduction, this article focuses mainly on the development of the animal welfare debate since the 1960s. It presents animal welfare as a science that arose from society's concern about the way animals are kept. These moral and ethical concerns lead to it having a value framework that must also be taken into consideration. Different definitions of animal welfare, as well as examples of research, are presented and discussed in the light of developments in this area. For example, in recent years there has been an increased interest among consumers for animal-friendly products, as there has been for environment friendly products, and this has stimulated the move from experimental studies of animal welfare to its application in practice and to monitoring animal welfare on farms. Traditionally such measurements have been resource based, e.g. specifying the minimum amount of feeding space or the maximum stocking density, but now the trend is toward animal-based measures, such as the number of lame animals, body condition, etc.
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Vol. 34 • No. 4