The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education

Farm Animal Welfare

Farm animal welfare resources: pigs, sheep, chickens, dairy, and beef.


About the resource

Animals are farmed in every country to meet requirements for food production. Concerns about the ways in which these animals might be kept are frequently expressed. Here we discuss the main ways in which animals are farmed, and what opportunities there are to improve welfare.  

The farm animal welfare resources focus on the welfare of commonly farmed species: sheep, pigs, dairy cows, beef cows, chickens (broilers and layers), as well as covering methods of welfare assessment. There are a range of videos and resources which have been developed by experts in the field of animal welfare and behaviour at SRUC and University of Edinburgh.


Animal welfare is the mental and physical state of an individual as it experiences and engages with its environment, based on the knowledge that animals can suffer, feel pain and discomfort, and experience positive emotions. An animal’s welfare is impacted by its environment, the resources it has available to it and human attitudes and behaviours. Animal welfare exists on a continuum from very poor to very good. Depending on the experiences that animals have during their lives, they can have ‘a life not worth living’ if most of their experiences are negative or cause negative emotions. On the other hand, they can have ‘a good life’ if they experience mostly positive mental states.

Download the pdf to find out about

  • What is animal welfare and its importance
  • Benefits of animal welfare
  • Introduction to the Five Domains model

Understanding the 5 Domains

The Five Domains Model is an evolution of animal welfare science thinking that describes the integration of the physical and behavioural needs animals have and how that relates to their emotions.

Download the pdf to find out about

  • Brief history of animal welfare science
  • The evolution behind and details of the Five Domains model


  • You can complete a short quiz in order to test your knowkedge and understanding of farm animal welfare (introduction module) and the 5 domains model.
  • The quiz is completely anonymous
  • Please click the following button to be take the quiz

Complete the short quiz

Visit the pages to find out about animal welfare of pigs, poultry and sheep:

Pig welfare

Poultry welfare

Sheep welfare



Watch the introduction video from Professor Cathy Dwyer.

Video: Farm Animal Welfare Introduction
Farm animal welfare introduction



Video footage has been filmed opportunistically. The videos may contain some scenes of animal farming that some viewers may find upsetting. Images may be owned by the University of Edinburgh or sourced under Creative Commons license from other organisations or individuals. The University of Edinburgh and the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education (JMICAWE) does not take any liability or responsibility for anyone who uses or misuses the content within the videos.

These resources describe routine farm practices that are widely used across animal agriculture globally. They do contain some images that some viewers may find distressing. In all cases we discuss the reasons why these practices may occur, and the welfare implications, as well as alternative approaches. This is intended to help with farm animal welfare education and is not an endorsement of the use of these practices on farm.