Animals are the heart of every dairy farm and their health and welfare is of critical importance to our farmers. The framework we use to understand and assess animal welfare is referred to as the Five Domains Model.

The Five Domains Model

The Five Domains provide a means of evaluating the welfare of an individual or group of animals in a particular situation, with a strong focus on mental well-being and positive experiences. There are four physical or functional domains; nutrition, environment, health and behaviour, which relate to biological function, and the fifth domain, the mental state, considers the ‘affective state’ or psychological wellbeing. 

This affective state represents the animal’s overall subjective feelings and experiences and hence this fifth domain is a key element of animal welfare. An animal may have positive or negative emotional states and it is the balance between these subjective experiences that can influence an individual animal’s ‘Quality of Life’ (Mellor 2013).

To help ensure animals have a ‘life worth living’ they must have the opportunity to have positive experiences and those responsible for the care of animals need to provide them with environments that not only allow, but encourage animals to express behaviours that are rewarding.

The four physical domains are directly referenced here and the fifth domain is indirectly referenced as overall wellbeing.

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