The Five Freedoms were formulated in the early s and are now well recognised as highly influential in the animal welfare arena. However, a marked increase in scientific understanding over the last two decades now shows that the Five Freedoms do not capture, either in the specifics or the generality of their expression, the breadth and depth of current knowledge of the biological processes that are germane to understanding animal welfare and to guiding its management. For example, this paper refers to some negative experiences that can never be eliminated, merely temporarily neutralised, because they are essential for eliciting behaviours upon which the survival of the animal depends. These observations have implications for reviewing and potentially updating minimum standards in codes of welfare. The paper ends with an up-to-date characterisation of the principal features of animal welfare, expressed largely in non-technical terms.
|Published (Last):||13 February 2007|
|PDF File Size:||17.6 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||4.40 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
The Five Freedoms were formulated in the early s and are now well recognised as highly influential in the animal welfare arena. However, a marked increase in scientific understanding over the last two decades now shows that the Five Freedoms do not capture, either in the specifics or the generality of their expression, the breadth and depth of current knowledge of the biological processes that are germane to understanding animal welfare and to guiding its management.
For example, this paper refers to some negative experiences that can never be eliminated, merely temporarily neutralised, because they are essential for eliciting behaviours upon which the survival of the animal depends. These observations have implications for reviewing and potentially updating minimum standards in codes of welfare.
The paper ends with an up-to-date characterisation of the principal features of animal welfare, expressed largely in non-technical terms. The Five Freedoms have had major impact on animal welfare thinking internationally. 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 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.
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.
The Five Freedoms Table 1 are very well known internationally. They have often been and still are referenced, for example, when the principal features of animal welfare are being outlined in policy statements e. They have certainly influenced animal welfare legislation, such as the UK Animal Welfare Act [ 3 ], as well as many accreditation or assurance schemes for farm animal welfare e. This was in part because, when formulated, they were the first to detail the broader dimensions of animal welfare by incorporating subjective experiences, health status and behavior [ 13 ].
More specifically, they referred to thirst, hunger, fear, distress, discomfort, pain, malnutrition, injury, disease and behavioural expression Table 1. They also usefully highlighted animal management actions, known as the Five Provisions Table 1 , which were then included in codes of practice designed to improve animal welfare [ 12 , 14 ].
Many early and current codes still show clear evidence of this e. The Five Freedoms and Five Provisions for promoting farm animal welfare [ 12 , 13 , 14 ].
This broader Freedoms paradigm was not intended to represent ideal or unattainable states, nor an absolute standard for compliance with acceptable principles of good welfare [ 13 ]; rather, it was to be a checklist by which to assess the strengths and weaknesses of husbandry systems [ 12 ].
The Five Provisions aligned with the Freedoms Table 1 have rarely been named as such, as the Five Freedoms has been the dominant term in use. The Provisions, which it might be argued have been more influential than the Freedoms, were aimed at practical measures for securing the Freedoms understood within the limits of the caveats noted above.
This statement reflected the then longstanding acceptance by informed members of the farming sector that the Five Freedoms paradigm could be usefully applied to guiding the welfare management of their livestock e. Furthermore, animal welfare NGOs, which usually focus on a wider range of animal sectors, also adopted the Five Freedoms paradigm, and in statements resembling those by FAWC, variously referred to the Freedoms as ideal or aspirational states or principles that provide a logical and comprehensive guide for animal welfare assessment and management e.
It is proposed here, however, that the notion of aspiring to achieve these Freedoms defined as ideal states and simultaneously viewing them as a logical and comprehensive guide for effective animal welfare assessment and management, creates the mistaken expectation among those who are less well informed that such states of freedom are indeed fully achievable.
In like manner, non-reflective or formulaic reference to the Five Freedoms, implicitly considered to be fully achievable without impediment by applying the Five Provisions, also occurs in cases were animal welfare receives cursory attention also see [ 24 ]. The present paper begins by briefly exploring some factors that may have contributed to this misconception.
Finally, the paper concludes by outlining an alternative means of characterising animal welfare and its management. Four overlapping factors are suggested here to have contributed towards some animal advocate groups and others interpreting the Five Freedoms as being completely achievable.
Indeed, these attributes led John Webster to retain the term when he extended the paradigm to include additional features of significance to animal welfare [ 13 ]. Second, the apparently straightforward character of each Freedom as stated made them easy to grasp [ 12 ], and this undoubtedly contributed to their widespread adoption. Indeed, since the Five Freedoms have been published using this restricted format on hundreds of occasions.
Clearly, the adoption of this notion as a valid foundation for good animal welfare management would bring with it the implicit or explicit expectation that it is practically possible for the named negative experiences or states to be eliminated. Moreover, it would follow that animal care staff would have an obligation to keep animals completely free of these experiences or states at all times, and wrongly could be censured if they did not do so. Fourth, animal rights ethical theories achieved greater prominence during the same period e.
Among other points, the right of animals to be completely free from all harms done to them by people was emphasised e. It is obvious biologically that even during short periods of its life an animal is never likely to be completely free of the stipulated negative experiences or states of thirst, hunger, discomfort, pain, fear, distress, malnutrition, disease and injury [ 13 , 24 ].
Human experience and common sense reinforce this conclusion. Nevertheless, a major strength of the Five Freedoms paradigm was that it very effectively directed attention towards the need to understand, identify and minimise negative welfare states, and this aligned with the major focus of most animal welfare science activity during the last two decades [ 30 , 31 , 32 ].
One outcome was a huge improvement in knowledge of the functionality of animals relevant to their welfare, and this now provides a basis for considering whether or not the concept of the Five Freedoms can capture sufficient up-to-date understanding to be useful. Presented below are several key points that, taken together, help to clarify this matter. Note that research during the last 15—20 years has expanded the list of potential negative subjective feelings or emotions, generically known as affects or affective states, that most mammals and some birds are now considered likely to experience [ 33 , 34 , 35 ].
Moreover, two major types of sensory inputs that give rise to these experiences have been clarified [ 35 , 36 , 37 ]. Behavioural, physiological and neuroscience evidence supports these observations e. The undoubted negativity of each of these affects creates a sense of urgency to engage in behaviours that are specific to each affect, for example, breathlessness elicits increased respiratory activity, thirst provokes water seeking and drinking, hunger food acquisition, and pain escape or avoidance responses to injury [ 36 , 37 , 43 ].
Animals are therefore genetically preprogrammed to experience these negative affects and without them they could not survive. These observations provide a more nuanced understanding of the mechanisms involved and show more coherently why eliminating these survival-critical negative affects is not possible. Animals under human control therefore need to be managed in practical ways that avoid extremes of such experiences by keeping their intensity within tolerable limits that nevertheless still motivate the essential life-sustaining behaviours [ 37 , 44 ].
It has been widely assumed that when animals are managed with attention specifically focused on the survival-critical negative affects named in the Five Freedoms paradigm, i. However, the situation is not that straightforward. Thus, with regard to the wider list of survival-critical negative affects outlined above, high intensity breathlessness can at best be neutralised, and then only temporarily, and likewise with regard to thirst, hunger, pain, nausea, dizziness, debility, weakness and sickness.
Of course, relief from these negative affects after they have been experienced at high intensity might be perceived as hedonically positive, but this is likely to be short-lived [ 37 , 42 ]. Optimal management of these affects should therefore be aimed at keeping their intensity in the range between low tolerable levels and neutrality.
Note moreover that minimising these negative affects appears to have a permissive role in removing impediments to animals engaging in behaviours they may find rewarding see subsection 3. In contrast, 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. These behaviours include, but are not limited to see section 4 , environment-focused activities of exploration and food acquisition foraging or hunting , and the animal-to-animal interactive activities of bonding and bond affirmation, maternal, paternal or group care of young, play behaviour and sexual activity [ 44 , 46 ].
In general terms, the associated positive affects are considered likely to include various forms of comfort, pleasure, interest, confidence and a sense of control [ 30 , 33 , 47 ]. Understanding this should increase the drive to provide animals with environments that are improved in these and other ways, especially as this is likely to achieve longer term and more varied beneficial welfare outcomes. The brain processing that underlies the generation survival-critical negative affects and that which underlies the generation of situation-related positive affects interact, such that when animals experience significant levels of the former this discomfort inhibits their motivation to utilise existing opportunities to engage in behaviours that would be rewarding [ 38 , 42 , 48 , 49 ].
Examples include the following: significant acute or chronic pain caused by traumatic injury or pathological processes may lead to immobility, restricted movement or otherwise impaired behavioural responsiveness to potentially pleasurable opportunities; breathlessness caused by acute or chronic cardio-respiratory or respiratory impairment may restrict animals to low levels of physical activity, thereby hindering their capacity to, for example, explore actively, hunt vigorously or forage extensively; and sickness, weakness, nausea, dizziness and other debilitating affects may demotivate animals from engaging in physically active and gregarious behaviours, thereby leading them to remain inactive and isolated from others [ 37 ].
Thus, therapeutic intervention should minimise such negative affects to both reduce the associated welfare compromise and to encourage the utilisation of existing opportunities for welfare enhancement [ 37 ]. The following points may now be highlighted. First, the list of 18 negative affects currently considered to be variously relevant to the welfare of mammals and birds far exceeds the six included in the Five Freedoms paradigm Table 1. However, its lack of specificity hinders recognition of the need to focus more directly on these affects and thereby to better manage each of the conditions that gives rise to them [ 34 , 50 , 51 ].
Second, the identification of two major types of such affects, i. Moreover, these two types of experience interact such that the presence of survival-critical negative affects at significant intensities demotivates animals from engaging in behaviours that they may otherwise find rewarding [ 37 ]. Third, opportunities to engage in rewarding behaviours are provided by stimulating environments, which, when appropriately configured, enable animals to experience various forms of comfort, pleasure, interest, confidence and a sense of control [ 2 , 30 , 37 ].
However, the range of specific provisions required for animals to experience the wide variety of the positive affects that is available to them when they are not restricted by constraining human management approaches e.
Overall, therefore, quite apart from the potential for the Five Freedoms paradigm to be misunderstood or misrepresented as aiming for the complete elimination of negative experiences, it does not capture, either in the specifics or the generality of its expression, the breadth and depth of current knowledge of the biological processes that are germane to understanding animal welfare and to guiding its management.
It is helpful to distinguish between those husbandry practices directed mainly at keeping animals alive and those aimed at achieving more than mere survival, i.
It is now well understood, however, that a minimalist focus on the basics for survival cannot sufficiently reduce the intensity of negative affects in the nutritional, environmental and health domains to sustainably secure net welfare states that are positive [ 5 , 13 , 30 , 33 , 34 , 37 , 54 ].
For example, it is possible to be chronically underfed or exposed to meteorological stressors, or to have chronic injuries or infections, and still be alive. More is required.
This can be achieved in two ways: the first is to manage animals in ways that both reduce survival-critical negative affects to tolerably low levels, thereby exceeding the minimum required for basic survival, and the second is to provide improved environments that offer the animals greater opportunities to experience positive affects [ 44 ].
These improvements include making available the following opportunities: variable environments with a congenial balance between predictability and unpredictability; access to preferred sites for resting, thermal comfort and voiding excrement; environmental choices that encourage exploratory and food acquisition behaviours which are enjoyable; a variety of feeds having pleasurable tastes and textures; and 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 [ 2 , 30 , 33 , 37 , 54 ].
Overall, the objective is to provide a range of opportunities for animals to experience comfort, pleasure, interest, confidence and a sense of control. Environments that may provide welfare enhancing opportunities such as these range from being somewhat improved to stimulus rich, and may also include pleasurable interactions with animal care personnel and others see section 8.
Such opportunities are apparent in most animal use sectors, but their extent varies widely both within and between sectors, in part due to constraints imposed by the primary roles of each sector.
Three contrasting examples illustrate this. Simply keeping animals alive posed major challenges for most zoos during the many centuries when they mainly functioned as menageries for displaying little known or unusual wild animals [ 55 ].
This was also the case from the early-to-mid 19th century when zoo and aquarium animals began to be studied scientifically, and from the midth century when conservation of threatened species was adopted as an increasingly important role [ 55 ]. However, concern about the welfare of such captive animals is much more recent, interest in it having burgeoned only during the last 15—20 years. Now, the zoo and aquarium sector is strongly committed to the worldwide promotion of positive welfare states in the animals in its care [ 56 ].
Leading zoos in particular have established innovative welfare enhancing programmes, which incorporate what they usually call environmental or behavioural enrichments, and which their staff strongly support and seek to continuously extend and improve e. The numerous successful enrichments developed by leading zoos provide examples of how the many less advanced zoos could improve their animal welfare management and could thereby help to reduce the wide variability in standards still apparent across the whole sector e.
Between 60 and 80 years ago, numerous nutritional, environmental, disease and other problems were poorly understood and farmers struggled to keep their livestock alive and healthily productive [ 13 , 33 , 34 ]. This success reduced some major negative impacts on the animals, but the related implications for their welfare only became a focus for serious scientific enquiry 30—40 years ago [ 13 , 33 , 34 , 61 ].
Initially the livestock sector, perhaps especially intensive farming enterprises, resisted all but quite limited environmental improvement initiatives [ 62 ], viewing many of them to be scientifically unsupported, impractical, and potentially costly impositions on commercial enterprises that need to remain financially viable [ 47 ].
However, during the last 10—20 years, national e. It is interesting to consider that the farming sector might find it instructive to keep under review the many innovative enrichments zoos develop as these might seed ideas for the implementation of practical, effective and economic farm-based initiatives.
Yet, the discriminative advantage of this uniformity is increasingly being regarded as hindering extrapolation of study outcomes to populations of genetically and otherwise more diverse animals of the same or different species living in more variable environments [ 65 , 66 , 67 , 68 ].
Moreover, the barren, space-restricted containers or enclosures in which the majority of laboratory animals such as rodents and rabbits are still kept are recognised as significant welfare imposts in themselves in addition to those due to some of the manipulations that form the primary focus of each study [ 65 , 67 , 69 , 70 ].
However, the impetus to improve laboratory settings, considered to have potential benefits as additional refinements aligned with the Three Rs tenet of replacement, reduction and refinement, is increasing as more information that facilitates their careful introduction becomes available e.
Updating Animal Welfare Thinking: Moving beyond the “Five Freedoms” towards “A Life Worth Living”
The Five Freedoms have been the basis of animal welfare since the s. Learn about what they are and why they have endured. Concern about animal care and welfare is not a new topic for those who raise animals, but it continues to be of greater concern for the general public. More and more people want to know and understand how animals, especially those raised to enter the food chain, are cared for, where and how these animals live, and what a modern farm is like. The answers to these questions do not have one single, correct answer. What remains the same across all farms is that farmers care about the animals they raise and want animals thriving. The outcry of the British public regarding the information in the book prompted the British government to appoint a committee to look into the welfare of farm animals.
The Five Freedoms outline five aspects of animal welfare under human control. They were developed in response to a UK Government report on livestock husbandry, and were formalised in press statement by the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council. The five freedoms as currently expressed are: . In , the UK government commissioned an investigation, led by Professor Roger Brambell , into the welfare of intensively farmed animals, partly in response to concerns raised in Ruth Harrison 's book, Animal Machines. The Brambell Report stated "An animal should at least have sufficient freedom of movement to be able without difficulty, to turn round, groom Itself, get up, lie down and stretch its limbs".
The Five Freedoms: A history lesson in animal care and 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.