Involving the animal as a contributor in design to overcome animal welfare related trade-offs: The dust bath unit as an example

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Allowing farm animals to have active control and influence over their environment through the expression of intrinsically motivated behaviours contributes to their (positive)welfare. However, farm animals are predominantly seen as passive receivers of what husbandry systems should provide for them. Additionally, designers and engineers of farming systems neglect the animals' potential in the design of husbandry systems, resulting in disadvantageous trade-offs between animal welfare and economic and environmental sustainability aspects. This paper describes, through the application of an interactive structured design approach, how laying hens can actively contribute to the functioning of the husbandry system by exercising their own goals. The ambition of this research was to allow animals to contribute to creating opportunities that might overcome existing trade-offs between animal welfare and other sustainability goals. The Reflexive Interactive Design approach was applied to achieve this ambition. This paper presents the methodological steps of the design process to contribute to the reduction of the (fine) dust problem in laying hen husbandry using the dust bath unit as an example. Also, this paper describes how we incorporated the laying hen as a contributor in the design process. We show that facilitating intrinsically motivated laying hen dust bathing behaviour can simultaneously resolve the environmental dust problem experienced in loose housing systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-92
JournalBiosystems Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Animal behaviour
  • Animal production systems
  • Engineering design
  • Reflexive Interactive Design (RIO)
  • Sustainable development
  • Trade-offs


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