Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Summary of Assessment Strategies

item Lay, Jr, Donald

Submitted to: Trends in Agricultural Science
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 27, 2003
Publication Date: May 27, 2003

Technical Abstract: The goal and desire to be able to reliably determine if an animal is in a state of poor or good well-being, is not new. This goal has been illusive due to the nature of those charcteristics that are important in determing the state of well-being in both humans and other animals. The characteristics of emotional states, states such as being fearful, anxious, happy; and other subjective states such as pain sensation, perception, etc. are such that they can never be precisely and accurately measured. Thus the quantification of well-being has eluded scientific endeavor. However, the need to understand animal well-being has been so great that efforts have continued toward this end. Currently, efforts are concentrating on assessing well-being, which is very different than measuring animal well-being. Assessment means to estimate the value of something, as proposed to measure something, which means to compare it to a standard. Because we have no standard of animal well-being, efforts to assess well-being allow us to place the level of well-being, as best as we can access this state, on a continuum from good to poor well-being. Then by placing other animals in other situations on this same continuum, we can start to separate with reasonable assuredness, the relative level of well-being that different environments provide. The current status of assessment methods are progressing forward. Currently it is critical that multiple measures of physiology and behavior are used in assessing animal well-being. Probably the most important and critical step in reliable assessing well-being will require the future development of valid measures of the mental states the animal is experiencing. Measurements of physiology and behavior are merely reflective of the animls mental state, the real determinant of well-being. And although it is easy to criticize the current efforts of assessing well-being by saying we don't know precisely what the animals state of being is, this attitude does not move us in a forward direction. Thus, these efforts need to be considered a "work in progress".

Last Modified: 4/19/2015
Footer Content Back to Top of Page