Free, D., Wolfensohn, S. 2023. Assessing the welfare of captive group-housed cockroaches, Gromphadorhina oblongonota. Animals 13(21), 3351.

The welfare of invertebrates under human care is of growing concern, particularly with the increasing interest in insect farming as an environmentally sustainable means of producing food. Additionally, individual welfare monitoring systems can be time-consuming and impractical for larger groups, particularly when individual animals are difficult to identify. It is, therefore, imperative to develop a validated system for monitoring terrestrial invertebrate welfare at a group level. The Animal Welfare Assessment Grid (AWAG) is an objective welfare-monitoring tool that has been approved for use with a wide range of species. This study modified the AWAG for large group-level welfare assessments and successfully trialled it on a terrestrial invertebrate species, a group of captive male Gromphadorhina oblongonota. The modified template evaluated the group’s welfare by scoring changes to 12 factors that could be tracked over time. The results highlight that the welfare of G. oblongonota is likely to be influenced by environmental and social factors, and inform practical improvements in G. oblongonota care that will result in improved welfare. The findings also demonstrate an efficient way to assess the welfare of invertebrates at the group level, and given the recent UK legislation (Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, 2022) plus the emerging interest in invertebrate farming, our findings hold timely significance.