The history of animal welfare
Ruth Harrison was a British animal protection activist and author. In 1964 she published the book Animal Machines, in which she describes intensive poultry and livestock farming.
In response to this book, the British Government set up a committee of enquiry, led by Professor Roger Brambell. Their research focused on the welfare of intensively kept animals. The committee formulated a recommendation, known as 'Brambell's Five Freedoms', to describe an animal's welfare needs. As a result of the report, the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Committee was established to oversee the livestock sector.
This was done in a list of the 'five freedoms', which were adopted by professional groups such as veterinarians:
- Freedom from hunger or thirst, by providing access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and strength;
- Freedom from discomfort, by providing a suitable environment, including shelter and a comfortable resting place;
- Freedom from pain, injury or illness, through prevention or prompt diagnosis and treatment;
- Freedom to express (most) normal behaviour, by providing sufficient space, good facilities and company of the animal's own species;
- Freedom from fear and sorrow, by providing conditions and treatments that prevent mental suffering.
Read more in our Cage Free booklet.