Consumer attitudes towards the development of animal-friendly husbandry systems

Abstract
Recent policy developments in the area of livestock husbandry have suggested that, from the perspective of optimizing animal welfare, new animal husbandry systems should be developed that provide opportunities for livestock animals to be raised in environments where they are permitted to engage in “natural behavior.” It is not known whether consumers regard animal husbandry issues as important, and whether they differentiate between animal husbandry and other animal welfare issues. The responsibility for the development of such systems is allocated jointly between farmers, regulators, different actors in the food chain, and consumers. This research focuses on understanding consumer attitudes and preferences regarding the development and introduction of such systems, to ensure that they are acceptable to consumers as well as producers, regulators, and scientists. Consumer perceptions of animal welfare and animal husbandry practices were evaluated using quantitative consumer survey, which focused on two animal husbandry issues – farmed pigs and farmed fish. Following pilot work, 1000 representative Dutch consumers were sampled about their attitudes to either pig or fish husbandry. The results indicated that consumers think about animal welfare in terms of two broad categories related to their health and living environment, but do not think about welfare issues at a more detailed level. Greater concern was expressed about the welfare of pigs compared to fish. Consumer trust in labeling also emerged as an important issue, since consumers need to trust different food chain actors with responsibility for promoting animal welfare, and are reluctant to consider the details of animal husbandry systems. As a consequence, a transparent, enforceable, and traceable monitoring system for animal welfare friendly products is likely to be important for consumers.
Keywords Animal welfare  fish farming  pig farming  consumer attitudes
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Joanne Sneddon & Bernard Rollin (2010). Mulesing and Animal Ethics. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 23 (4):371-386.

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