Animal Welfare Implication of use of Precision Breeding Techniques

Project Details


This study will set out a welfare assessment framework that will allow the effects of precision breeding technologies on welfare to be assessed on a general and edit-specific basis. A series of workshops will engage the industry and other interested parties.

The study will include five core objectives:

Objective 1: Scoping exercise: develop maps of main steps involved in developing precision breeding for key species of interest. The first objective involves preparing detailed maps of the steps involved when developing lines of precision bred animals and identifying steps that may be associated with welfare issues. This will involve an assessment of data already collected by breeding companies; opportunities to collect new data; participants in animal breeding and assessment; and resources. It will also involve a survey of industry partners on current practices.

Maps will be developed for a wide number of species including pigs and poultry, ruminants (sheep, beef and dairy cattle), salmonids (salmon and trout) and companion animals (dogs, cats and horses), with the main focus on pigs, poultry, and salmonids. The remaining objectives will focus on the three key species which are closest to being commercialised in England: pigs, poultry, and salmon.

Objective 2: Recommend an appropriate framework to assess animal welfare. The next step will be to propose an appropriate framework to assess animal welfare which takes into account both positive and negative welfare states and considers the whole life of the animal. This objective will involve selecting a relevant welfare assessment framework based on its ease of use and applicability to precision breeding.

Objective 3: Prepare options for mandatory species specific assessments. The third objective will involve creating three different options for species specific welfare assessments. The first option will be the baseline assessment option that would establish what industry is already doing (based on objective 1). The second (enhanced) and third (lifetime) option would add additional welfare assessments. Accompanying each option will also be an understanding of the resources required, and recommendations for pass/fail criteria. The species-specific welfare assessment would be a mandatory part of the welfare declaration process.

Objective 4: Prepare case study risk assessments for known precision bred animals to test pass/fail criteria. The researchers will run case studies to test the welfare assessment criteria from Objective 3 and assess impacts on different animals. Case studies may involve testing welfare-related edits (such as disease resistance) and production-related edits (such as feed conversion) and will be based on existing research. This objective will allow a more detailed assessment of specific welfare risks and opportunities to be considered for each case study.

Objective 5: Hold workshops for input from key stakeholders throughout the duration of the project. There will be opportunities for a range of stakeholders to input at key stages of the project, including breeding companies and livestock industry bodies, animal welfare NGOs, academic institutions, veterinary organisations, and expert committees. Workshops will be used to test attitudes to different options for the declaration process, both from a welfare assessment perspective and from an industry resource perspective.
Short titlePrecision breeding and welfare
AcronymRDE079 Sublot 8.2
Effective start/end date24/10/2231/05/23

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.