An Overview of Engineering Approaches to Improving Agricultural Animal Welfare Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2018, Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature. In this essay, we provide an overview of how production systems can be re-engineered to improve the welfare of the animals involved. At least three potential options exist: (1) engineering their environments to better fit the animals, (2) engineering the animals themselves to better fit their environments, and (3) eliminating the animals from the system by growing meat in vitro rather than on farms. The morality of consuming animal products and the conditions under which agricultural animals are maintained remain highly contentious, and when concerns about animal welfare are coupled with concerns about sustainability and global food security, the problem of welfare in animal agriculture constitutes “a wicked problem,” because it is unlikely that any proposed solution will simultaneously address all the issues of concern. In the final section of this essay, we offer some observations on how debate over reforms in animal agriculture could proceed going forward.

author list (cited authors)

  • Croney, C., Muir, W., Ni, J., Widmar, N. O., & Varner, G.

citation count

  • 10

publication date

  • February 2018