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Review article2014Peer reviewedOpen access

Intentions and Values in Animal Welfare Legislation and Standards

Lundmark, Frida; Berg, Charlotte; Schmid, Otto; Behdadi, Dorna; Röcklinsberg, Helena


The focus on animal welfare in society has increased during the last 50 years. Animal welfare legislation and private standards have developed, and today many farmers within animal production have both governmental legislation and private standards to comply with. In this paper intentions and values are described that were expressed in 14 animal welfare legislation and standards in four European countries; Sweden, United Kingdom, Germany and Spain. It is also discussed if the legislation and standards actually accomplish what they, in their overall description and ethics, claimed to do, i.e. if this is followed up by relevant paragraphs in the actual body of the text in the legislation and standards respectively. The method used was an on-line questionnaire from the EconWelfare research project and text analyses. This study shows that the ethical values within a set of legislation or private standards are not always consistently implemented, and it is not always possible to follow a thread between the intentions mentioned initially and the actual details of the legislation or standard. Since values will differ so will also the animal welfare levels and the implications of similar concepts in the regulations. In general, the regulations described were not based on animal welfare considerations only, but also other aspects, such as food safety, meat quality, environmental aspects and socio-economic aspects were taken into account. This is understandable, but creates a gap between explicit and implicit values, which we argue, can be overcome if such considerations are made more transparent to the citizens/consumers.


Animal welfare; Assurance schemes; Ethics; Farm animals; Regulations; Stakeholders

Published in

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
2014, Volume: 27, number: 6, pages: 991-1017
Publisher: SPRINGER