eCite Digital Repository

An effective environmental enrichment framework for the continual improvement of production animal welfare


Taylor, PS and Schrobback, P and Verdon, M and Lee, C, An effective environmental enrichment framework for the continual improvement of production animal welfare, Animal Welfare, 32 Article 14. ISSN 0962-7286 (2023) [Refereed Article]

PDF (Published version)

Copyright Statement

The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence, (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution and reproduction, provided the original article is properly cited.

Official URL:

DOI: doi:10.1017/awf.2023.5


Substrates and objects are provided to farm animals on the assumption that they improve animal welfare by enriching the environment, but these often fail to consider the extent to which an environmental enrichment (EE) improves animal welfare, if at all. Furthermore, there are numerous definitions of EE, each with a unique expectation. If expectations of animal welfare improvement are set too high, industry uptake may be thwarted, but if thresholds are set too low it will not result in meaningful improvements to animal welfare. We propose an EE framework based on revised definitions of EE that reflect improvements to various components of animal welfare: (i) pseudo-enrichment; (ii) EE for meeting basic needs; (iii) EE for pleasure; and (iv) EE for positive welfare balance. This framework requires short- and long-term assessments to determine the impact of the EE, although many are lacking in the production animal literature. Redefining EE with a focus on specific animal welfare outcomes will assist producers in identifying the optimal EE for their enterprise. Subsequently, we encourage dialogue between farmers, researchers and industry stakeholders when designing environmental enrichment programmes. This framework is a science-based tool that can be used to inform the development of clear EE assessment protocols and requirements for animal welfare legislation, assurance programmes and industry. This evidence-based framework ensures that the focus is on the outcome of EE programmes rather than the intent. Importantly, this framework has the flexibility to adapt even as baseline environments evolve, ensuring the continual improvement to production animal welfare.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:enrichment, livestock, welfare
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Animal production
Research Field:Animal management
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Livestock raising
Objective Field:Livestock raising not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Verdon, M (Dr Megan Verdon)
ID Code:155348
Year Published:2023
Deposited By:TIA - Research Institute
Deposited On:2023-02-15
Last Modified:2023-03-21
Downloads:2 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page