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Understanding, assessing and improving animal husbandry

Understanding, assessing and improving animal husbandry
A team of scientists who have been working on animal welfare for many years has published a series of three booklets on this subject. Raphaël Guatteo, BIOEPAR, participated in the writing of these documents. These memos present theoretical notions, examples and reference protocols related to animal welfare, so that all actors - animal husbandry professionals, members of animal protection associations, scientists, trainers... but also citizens - can exchange with a common language.

Understanding animal welfare

Animal welfare is nowadays one of the major concerns of our society. The improvement of the living conditions of animal husbandry implies an evolution of practices. However, these changes require a harmonization of concepts between the various actors involved.

This booklet summarizes current scientific knowledge on the sensitivity and consciousness of animals and traces the philosophical and legal history of the consideration of their welfare. All of this information provides a common reference for a common understanding of animal welfare.

This book is intended not only for students in agricultural or university courses and animal husbandry professionals, but also for any citizen interested in this issue.


Since the beginning of domestication, the history of humans and animals have been closely linked. And for many ancient authors, the fact that animals are sentient is obvious. In France, it is the law of 1976 that really built the policy of animal protection. Some forty years later, consideration for the welfare of animals [...] has become one of the major concerns of consumers and citizens. ...] This change must necessarily occur in an inclusive approach, ... beneficial to the animal, to humans and to the environment. [..]
A limiting point in the implementation of this concept and more generally in the improvement of animal husbandry may be the understanding between the different actors, who do not always put the same definitions behind certain notions. This is all the more true since, until recently, notions relating to animal welfare were not or hardly addressed [...] it was essentially zootechnics that was taught. [...]

Editions Quae, coll. Les mémos de Quae, 72 pages, janvier 2020 – 12 euros (ebook gratuit)


Assessing animal welfare

The ambition to improve the welfare of animal husbandry requires the ability to assess the level of welfare or ill-being of an animal or a group of animals. This may be motivated by the farmer's desire for self-diagnosis, but also by certification processes such as the labelling of the level of welfare on animal husbandry farms, aimed at informing consumers and enabling them to make informed purchasing decisions. In addition, certain regulated animal needs can be monitored.

To assess animal welfare as objectively as possible, standards have been developed by a wide range of stakeholders. Based on different indicators for different species, types of production, ages of animals and types of animal husbandry, these guidelines serve as a guide for adapting assessments in the field.

This booklet explains what the welfare indicators are, how they are measured and the process of integration to obtain reliable information on the welfare level of an animal husbandry.


Whatever the objective of the initial evaluation of the well-being of animal husbandry, it must be as reliable and objective as possible. Indeed, how can an improvement approach be built on a poor initial diagnosis? ...] There is no single indicator, ... the results of several indicators must be combined, integrated with each other, to obtain this overall level. Finally, [...] the evaluation must also be carried out at the herd level in order to best reflect the situation of the herd as a whole, without obscuring divergent individual situations.

Editions Quae, coll. Les mémos de Quae, 72 pages, janvier 2020 – 12 euros (ebook gratuit)

About the authors

These books were written by a transdisciplinary group of scientists (zootechnician, veterinarian, ethologist,...) who have been working on animal welfare for many years within different scientific organizations (INRAE, VetoSupAgro, Oniris, AgroParisTech, Université de Saclay). This series will be completed by a third booklet dedicated to the improvement of animal husbandry.