Five Domains Model

What does the Five Domains model mean and how do they contribute to the Regulations?

The Five Domains model of animal welfare assessment has been used since 1994. It is based on "Five Domains" of an individual animal, or group of animals welfare at any point in time.

These Domains each contribute to an animals overall welfare and are

  1. Nutrition
  2. Physical Environment
  3. Health
  4. Behavioural Interactions
  5. Mental (effective) State    

This allows us to assess the Four Functional Domains, which impact an animals welfare, as either a positive or negative influence on the animals experience of its world in Domain 5.

One of the most important strengths of the Five Domains is that it recognises that minimising or resolving negative physical, health or mental states does not necessarily result in positive welfare but may only provide a neutral state.

To have good welfare, animals need more.

To help ensure animals have a ‘life worth living’ they must have the opportunity to have positive experiences.

To enable this, those responsible for the care of animals need to provide them with environments that not only allow but encourage animals to express natural behaviours that they find rewarding. Management of animals requires that all negative experiences are immediately addressed; positive experiences are identified and provided for them, and barriers to positive experiences removed wherever possible.

This shift in understanding is the basis for the Five Domains model which incorporates the provision of positive welfare and recognises mental affective states.

Below presents the key aspects of the Domains and how they might achieve good animal welfare:


Domain Animal Welfare Aims

Provide ready access to safe water and a diet adjusted to the individual to ensure and maintain optimal health and fitness.


Minimise thirst and hunger, poor quality feed, lack of variety, unbalanced diet.
Enable eating to be a pleasurable experience, satiety or feeling of fullness, quenching thirst. Pleasure of chewing or grazing for long periods of time. Pleasure of different tastes.
Provide suitable safe enclosures with room to move, shade, good air quality and comfortable resting areas
Minimise discomfort and exposure, toxins or pollutants, inappropriate environment, unsafe facilities.
Promote and provide a comfortable environment considering temperature, safety, rest, visual stimulus, social interaction, and enrichment.
To diagnose, prevent and treat disease, or injury and to create and implement good exercise conditioning and free exercise
Minimise negative experiences of ill-health
Promote pleasures of optimal health, fitness, and free exercise- feeling of vitality. Veterinary attention provided.
Provide sufficient space, proper and safe facilities, compatible company to enable the horse to express normal behaviours
Minimise threats and unpleasant restrictions on behaviour, ability to forage or exercise and minimise isolation.
Promote engagement in rewarding activities and positive interactions, enjoyable experiences, calm and confident horse.
Provide safe, compatible, and appropriate opportunities to have pleasurable experiences
Minimise boredom, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. No distress.
Promote various forms of comfort, pleasure, interest, reward and confidence.



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