Policy decisions aimed at improving farm animal welfare involve balancing several competing objectives. Not only do such decisions involve tradeoffs between social, ethical, economic and welfare considerations, animal welfare itself is a multi-dimensional concept and some husbandry practices may satisfy some welfare needs but fail to satisfy others. Multi-criteria decision analysis is a decision theoretic tool that has been used to inform decision making in fields such as environmental policy, urban and regional planning, and biosecurity – all of which are characterised by competing goals and multiple stake-holders. This paper presents a preliminary multi-criteria framework for the analysis of animal welfare policies at the national level using indoor housing options for layer hens as an empirical example. Preliminary results are presented, but major emphasis is placed on highlighting the information needed to make such a framework both transparent and tractable.


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