Posts Tagged ‘Animal Rights’

Compassion in World Farming's founder Peter Roberts

Compassion in World Farming's founder Peter Roberts

The ‘Five Freedoms’ of Animal Welfare are a set of ideal standards for Animal Welfare rather than a piece of law.

They were originally developed as part of a UK government report into farm animal welfare in the early 1960s.  They have since been adopted for all aspects of animal welfare by many governments and organisations around the world.

As well as looking at the titles of the ‘freedoms’, it is important to understand their meaning:

  • Freedom from Hunger and Thirst
    This freedom relates to provision of fresh water as well as a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
    If you provide an animal with food but it is not the correct food to provide for the animal’s needs you are failing to meet this freedom.
    You may also be failing to meet this freedom if you provide food which makes an animal obese as you are failing to provide a diet which maintains full health and vigour.
  • Freedom from Discomfort
    This freedom is concerned with providing an appropriate environment, shelter and resting area.
    It is more concerned with provision of appropriate accommodation than with discomfort caused by disease or injury (which is covered by a different freedom).  If an animal does not have secure shelter from rain, wind or bad weather or has no bedding (or the wrong kind of bedding or substrate), the person responsible for this animal is failing to comply with this freedom
  • Freedom from Pain, Injury and Disease
    Complying with this freedom ensures that pain, disease or injury are prevented or that if they are not preventable, that any pain, disease or injury is quickly diagnosed and treated.
    It is important to realise that is not against welfare standards for a person to be responsible for an animal which is in pain or ill. If you are responsible for an animal, however, and it is in pain (or injured or suffering from a disease) and you choose to ignore it and fail to seek treatment then you are neglecting the welfare of this animal (and therefore breaking the law).
  • Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour
    This freedom points to the provision of sufficient space, proper facilities and, where appropriate, company of the animal’s own kind.
    These areas are concerned with allowing an animal to exhibit behaviours which are as close as possible to those it would exhibit in the wild.
  • Freedom from Fear and Distress
    This freedom concerns itself with removing circumstances which would bring about mental suffering.
    It could cover, for example, issues such as keeping prey animals in full view of predator species, subjecting an animal to an unreasonable workload or treating an animal cruelly that it became fearful.

Although, in itself, not a piece of law, the following extract from the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act, 2006 shows how strongly Scottish welfare legislation draws on these standards:

Section 24 – Ensuring welfare of animals

1) A person commits an offence if the person does not take such steps as are reasonable in the circumstances to ensure that the needs of an animal for which the person is responsible are met to the extent required by good practice.

3) For the purposes of subsection (1), an animal’s needs include—

(a) its need for a suitable environment,
(b) its need for a suitable diet,
(c) its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns,
(d) any need it has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals,
(e) its need to be protected from suffering, injury and disease. 

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