Aggregation of measures to produce an overall assessment of animal welfare. Part 2: analysis of constraints

R. Botreau, M.B.M. Bracke, P. Perny, A. Buttherworth, J. Capdeville, C.G. van Reenen, I. Veissier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


The overall assessment of animal welfare is a multicriterion evaluation problem that needs a constructive strategy to compound information produced by many measures. The construction depends on specific features such as the concept of welfare, the measures used and the way data are collected. Welfare is multidimensional and one dimension probably cannot fully compensate for another one (e.g. good health cannot fully compensate for behavioural deprivation). Welfare measures may vary in precision, relevance and their relative contribution to an overall welfare assessment. The data collected are often expressed on ordinal scales, which limits the use of weighted sums to aggregate them. A sequential aggregation is proposed in the Welfare Quality® project, first from measures to welfare criteria (corresponding to dimensions with pre-set objectives) and then to an overall welfare assessment, using rules determined at each level depending on the nature and number of variables to be considered and the level of compensation to be permitted. Scientific evidence and expert opinion are used to refine the model, and stakeholders¿ approval of general principles is sought. This approach could potentially be extended to other problems in agriculture such as the overall assessment of the sustainability of production systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1188-1197
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • decision-support-system
  • on-farm welfare
  • expert opinion
  • pregnant sows
  • dairy-cattle
  • laying hens
  • indicators
  • parameters
  • science
  • values

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