The degree to which production animals experience discomfort was systematically listed and scored in a series of studies. The method aimed at isolating negative feelings of the animals (discomfort) from other welfare aspects. The method was developed in 2007, and applied to several animal categories between 2007 and 2011. In 2018, the approach was repeated extensively for two sectors (broiler chickens and veal calves) on request of an NGO. An early reflection reveals some methodological and communicative issues that may affect stakeholder acceptance. This pleads for further reflection on the position of (reductionist) academic contributions in the Dutch multi-stakeholder societal debate on animal welfare.