Assessing the human-animal relationship in farmed species: a critical review

S. Waiblinger, X. Boivin, V. Pedersen, M. Tosi, A.M. Janczak, E.K. Visser, R.B. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

369 Citations (Scopus)


The present paper focuses on six main issues. First, we briefly explain why an increased understanding of the human¿animal relationship (HAR) is an essential component of any strategy intended to improve the welfare of farmed animals and their stockpersons. Second, we list the main internal and external factors that can influence the nature of the relationship and the interactions between human beings and farm animals. Third, we argue that the numerous tests that have been used to assess the HAR fall into three main categories (stationary human, moving human, handling/restraint), according to the degree of human involvement. Fourth, the requirements that any test of HAR must fulfil before it can be considered effective, and the ways in which the tests can be validated are discussed. Fifth, the various types of test procedures that have been used to assess the HAR in a range of farmed species are reviewed and critically discussed. Finally, some research perspectives that merit further attention are shown. The present review embraces a range of farmed animals. Our primary reasons for including a particular species were: whether or not general interest has been expressed in its welfare and its relationship with humans, whether relevant literature was available, and whether it is farmed in at least some European countries. Therefore, we include large and small ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats), pigs, poultry (chickens), fur animals (foxes, mink) and horses. Although horses are primarily used for sport, leisure or therapy they are farmed as draught, food or breeding animals in many countries. Literature on the HAR in other species was relatively scarce so they receive no further mention here.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-242
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • open-field behavior
  • commercial dairy-cows
  • japanese-quail chicks
  • high adrenocortical-response
  • miniature pigs discriminate
  • coturnix-coturnix-japonica
  • heart-rate-variability
  • fox vulpes-vulpes
  • laying hens
  • domestic chicks

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