Learn more

Five Freedoms vs Five Domains

Five Freedoms

The Five Freedoms model of animal welfare was first developed in the 1960s and has shaped the development of evidence-based animal welfare standards globally for many years. The Five Freedoms are recognised internationally and consist of; freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury or disease; freedom to express normal behaviour; freedom from fear and distress.

The Five Freedoms have been referenced multiple times by animal welfare groups, NGOs, industries and governments in relation to standards, codes of practice, legislation, policy statements, and quality assurance schemes for farmed animals.

Moving on from the Five Freedoms

However, how we think about animal welfare has evolved over the past few years, from solely meeting the basic needs of animals, to encouraging positive experiences and recognising animals’ emotional needs. Animal sentience was recognised and enshrined into law in New Zealand in August 2015, being one of the first countries to do so. We are well aware that for animals to have a good quality of life, we need to go beyond minimising negatives to also focus on providing them with a life that is filled with positive mental experiences.

Five Freedoms Five Domains

1. From hunger and thirst

1. Nutrition
2. From discomfort 2. Environment
3. From pain, injury and disease 3. Health
4. To express normal behaviour 4. Behaviour
5. From fear and distress 5. Mental state

The Five Domains Model of animal welfare was developed in New Zealand and goes beyond the Five Freedoms. The Five Domains and Five Freedoms contain essentially the same five elements, however, the Five Domains have greater focus on the mental state of an animal (how the animal ‘feels’) and acknowledges that welfare can be both positive and negative.

The Five Domains makes the distinction between the physical and functional factors that affect an animal’s welfare and the overall mental state of the animal arising from these. It also recognises that for every physical aspect that is affected, there may be an associated emotion or experience that may also affect the animals’ welfare. An animals’ emotional needs are equally important as their physical needs.

Animals deserve a good life and opportunities to have positive experiences. The Five Domains model allows SPCA Certified to extend our thinking beyond the Five Freedoms to place greater emphasis on providing environments that not only allow, but actively encourage, animals to engage in activities and express behaviours that are rewarding. For a pig this may be opportunities to wallow and laze in shade on a hot day; for a layer hen this may be perches on which to roost comfortably on at night and suitable enrichment items to interact with during the day; and for a dog at doggy daycare it may mean a planned schedule of play activities and rest periods with suitable playmates.

The Five Domains model of animal welfare is a framework which aligns closely with the goals of SPCA Certified as it focuses on how animals feel and allows us to look beyond minimising suffering to strive for a good life for animals.