Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 79–101

The Concept of Farm Animal Welfare: Citizen Perceptions and Stakeholder Opinion in Flanders, Belgium

  • Filiep Vanhonacker
  • Wim Verbeke
  • Els Van Poucke
  • Zuzanna Pieniak
  • Griet Nijs
  • Frank Tuyttens
Articles

Abstract

Several attempts to conceptualize farm animal welfare have been criticized for diverging reasons, among them often the failure to incorporate the public concern and opinion. This paper’s objective is to develop a conception of farm animal welfare that starts from the public’s perception and integrates the opinion of different stakeholder representatives, thus following a fork-to-farm approach. Four qualitative citizen focus group discussions were used to develop a quantitative questionnaire, which has been completed by a representative sample of Flemish citizens (n = 459). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were applied to develop a conception of farm animal welfare starting from an extended list of aspects that relate to animal production and associate with farm animal welfare in the public’s perception. In depth interviews with stakeholder representatives were used to match and adapt the structure of the animal welfare conception model. The resulting conception revealed seven dimensions grouped in two different levels. Three dimensions were animal-based: “Suffering and Stress,” “Ability to Engage in Natural Behavior,” and “Animal Health.” Four dimensions were resource-based: “Housing and Barn climate,” “Transport and Slaughter,” “Feed and Water,” and “Human-Animal Relationship.” This conception is distinct from earlier attempts since it is based on public perceptions; it addresses the opinion of different stakeholders, and it distinguishes empirically between animal-based and resource-based dimensions in the conceptualization of farm animal welfare. The relevancy of a popular definition is supported by the present demand oriented economy, in which animal welfare is a non-trade concern, and mainly left to the market where consumers still mainly act as individuals who calculate and weigh pros and cons.

Keywords

Citizen Confirmatory factor analysis Construct validity Definition Farm animal welfare Survey 

References

  1. Algers, B., & Jensen, P. (1991). Teat stimulation and milk-production during early lactation in sows—effects of continuous noise. Canadian Journal of Animal Science, 71, 51–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Appleby, M. C. (1999a). Definitions of welfare. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 65, 159–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Appleby, M. C. (1999b). Tower of babel: Variation in ethical approaches, concepts of welfare and attitudes to genetic manipulation. Animal Welfare, 8, 381–390.Google Scholar
  4. Appleby, M. C., & Sandøe, P. (2002). Philosophical debate on the nature of well-being: Implications for animal welfare. Animal Welfare, 11, 283–294.Google Scholar
  5. Bagozzi, R. P., Li, Y. L., & Phillips, L. W. (1991). Assessing construct-validity in organizational research. Administrative Science Quarterly, 36, 421–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bartussek, H. (1999). A review of the animal needs index (ani) for the assessment of animals’ well-being in the housing systems for Austrian proprietary products and legislation. Livestock Production Science, 61, 179–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bollen, K. A. (1989). Structural equations with latent variables. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  8. Boogaard, B. K., Oosting, S. J., & Bock, B. B. (2008). Defining sustainability as a socio-cultural concept: Citizen panels visiting dairy farms in the Netherlands. Livestock Science, 117, 24–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Botreau, R., Perny, P., & Veissier, I. (2008). Reports on the construction of welfare criteria fro different livestock species, Part 3: Criteria construction for all animal types on farm. Deliverable 2.8b, subtask 2.3.1.2, Welfare Quality® (EU FOOD-CT-2004-506508).Google Scholar
  10. Broom, D. M. (1986). Indicators of poor welfare. British Veterinary Journal, 142, 524–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Broom, D. M. (1991). Animal-welfare—concepts and measurement. Journal of Animal Science, 69, 4167–4175.Google Scholar
  12. Broom, D. M. (2001). Coping, stress and welfare. In D. M. Broom (Ed.), Coping with challenge: Welfare in animals including humans (pp. 1–9). Berlin: Dahlem University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Broom, D. M. (2009). The history of the concept of animal welfare, of related concepts and of animal welfare science. International autumn conference: Interdisciplinary discussion about concepts of animal welfare. Germany: Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler.Google Scholar
  14. Browne, M., & Cudeck, R. (1993). Alternative ways of assessing model fit. In K. A. Bollen & J. Long (Eds.), Testing structural equation models (pp. 136–162). CA: Sage, Newbury Park.Google Scholar
  15. Buller, H. (2009). What can we tell consumers and retailers? Proceedings of Welfare Quality final stakeholder conference, (pp 43–46). Uppsala, Sweden.Google Scholar
  16. Butterworth, A. (2009). Feeding support information back to management. Proceedings of Welfare Quality final stakeholder conference, (pp 33–37). Uppsala, Sweden.Google Scholar
  17. Caporale, V., Alessandrini, B., Dalla Villa, P., & Del Papa, S. (2005). Global perspectives on animal welfare: Europe. Revue Scientifique et Technique-Office International des Epizooties, 24, 567–577.Google Scholar
  18. Dawkins, M. S. (2006). A user’s guide to animal welfare science. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 21, 77–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Duncan, I. J. H. (1996). Animal welfare defined in terms of feelings. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica Section a-Animal Science, 29–35.Google Scholar
  20. Duncan, I. J. H. (2005). Science-based assessment of animal welfare: Farm animals. Revue Scientifique et Technique-Office International des Epizooties, 24, 483–492.Google Scholar
  21. Duncan, I. J. H., & Fraser, D. (1997). Understanding animal welfare. In M. Appleby & B. O. Hughes (Eds.), Animal welfare (pp. 19–31). Wallingford: CABI Publisher.Google Scholar
  22. Edwards, J. D., & Schneider, H. P. (2005). The world veterinary association and animal welfare. Revue Scientifique et Technique-Office International des Epizooties, 24, 639–646.Google Scholar
  23. European Commission. (2005). Attitudes of consumers towards the welfare of farmed animals. Spec Eur 229. http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/welfare/euro_barometer25_en.pdf. Accessed 26 February 2010.
  24. Fisher, M. W. (2009). Defining animal welfare–does consistency matter? New Zealand Veterinary Journal, 57, 71–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fraser, D. (1995). Science, values and animal welfare: Exploring the ‘inextricable connection’. Animal Welfare, 4, 103–117.Google Scholar
  26. Fraser, D. (2001). The “New perception” of animal agriculture: Legless cows, featherless chickens, and a need for genuine analysis. Journal of Animal Science, 79, 634–641.Google Scholar
  27. Fraser, D. (2004). Applying science to animal welfare standards. Proceedings of Global Conference on Animal Welfare: an OIE initiative. France: Paris.Google Scholar
  28. Fraser, D. (2008). Understanding animal welfare. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, 50, S1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Fraser, D., Weary, D. M., Pajor, E. A., & Milligan, B. N. (1997). A scientific conception of animal welfare that reflects ethical concerns. Animal Welfare, 6, 187–205.Google Scholar
  30. Garnier, J. P., Klont, R., & Plastow, G. (2003). The potential impact of current animal research on the meat industry and consumer attitudes towards meat. Meat Science, 63, 79–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Grunert, K. G. (2006). Future trends and consumer lifestyles with regard to meat consumption. Meat Science, 74, 149–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hair, J., Black, W., Babin, B., Anderson, R., & Tatham, R. (2006). Multivariate data analysis (6th ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.Google Scholar
  33. Haynes, R. P. (2008). Animal welfare: Competing conceptions and their ethical implications. Dordrecht: Springer Science + Business Media B.V.Google Scholar
  34. Hewson, C. J. (2003a). What is animal welfare? Common definitions and their practical consequences—introduction. Canadian Veterinary Journal-Revue Veterinaire Canadienne, 44, 496–499.Google Scholar
  35. Hewson, C. J. (2003b). Can we assess welfare? Canadian Veterinary Journal-Revue Veterinaire Canadienne, 44, 749–753.Google Scholar
  36. Huber, A., & Fölsch, D. W. (1978). Akustische ethogramme von hühnern. Tierhaltung Band 5, Birkhäuser. Stuttgart: Basel.Google Scholar
  37. Kiley-Worthington, M. (1989). Ecological, ethological and ethically sound environments for animals: Towards symbiosis. Journal of Agricultural Ethics, 2, 223–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Korthals, A. (2001). Ethical dilemmas in sustainable agriculture. International Journal of Food Science and Technology, 36, 813–820.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lund, V., Coleman, G., Gunnarsson, S., Appleby, M. C., & Karkinen, K. (2006). Animal welfare science—working at the interface between the natural and social sciences. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 97, 37–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Malhotra, N. K., & Peterson, M. (2006). Basic marketing research: A decision-making approach. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education/Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  41. Mason, G., & Mendl, M. (1993). Why is there no simple way of measuring animal welfare? Animal Welfare, 2, 301–319.Google Scholar
  42. McInerney, J. (1991). A socioeconomic perspective on animal-welfare. Outlook on Agriculture, 20, 51–56.Google Scholar
  43. McInerney, J. (2004). Animal welfare, economics and policy: Report on a study undertaken for the farm and animal health economics. London: DEFRA, 68 pp.Google Scholar
  44. NIS. (2002). Population census data January 1, 2003. Brussels: NIS, National Institute for Statistics.Google Scholar
  45. Nordenfelt, L. (2006). Animal and human health and welfare: A comparative philosophical analysis. Oxford: CABI Publishing.Google Scholar
  46. Rollin, B. E. (1981). Animal rights and human morality. Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  47. Rushen, J. (2003). Changing concepts of farm animal welfare: Bridging the gap between applied and basic research. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 81, 199–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rushen, J., & Depassille, A. M. B. (1992). The scientific assessment of the impact of housing on animal-welfare—a critical-review. Canadian Journal of Animal Science, 72, 721–743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sundrum, A. (2007). Conflicting areas in the ethical debate on animal health and welfare. In Proceedings of the 7th congress of the European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics ‘Sustainable food production and ethics, (pp. 257–262). Vienna: Austria.Google Scholar
  50. Tuyttens, F. A. M., Vanhonacker, F., Van Poucke, E., & Verbeke, W. (2010). Quantitative verification of the correspondence between the Welfare Quality® operational definition of farm animal welfare and the opinion of Flemish farmers, citizens and vegetarians. Livestock Science, 131, 108–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Van Tichelen, S. (2009). An NGO view. Proceedings of Welfare Quality final stakeholder conference (pp. 83–84). Uppsala, Sweden.Google Scholar
  52. Vanhonacker, F. E. Van Poucke, F. A. M. Tuyttens, & Verbeke, W. (2010). Citizens’ views on farm animal welfare and related information provision: Exploratory insights from flanders, Belgium. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics. doi:10.1007/s10806-010-9235-9.
  53. Vanhonacker, F., Verbeke, W., Van Poucke, E., & Tuyttens, F. A. M. (2008). Do citizens and farmers interpret the concept of farm animal welfare differently? Livestock Science, 116, 126–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Verbeke, W. (2009). Stakeholder, citizen and consumer interests in farm animal welfare. Animal Welfare, 18, 325–333.Google Scholar
  55. Vermeir, I., & Verbeke, W. (2006). Sustainable food consumption: Exploring the consumer “Attitude—behavioral intention” gap. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 19, 169–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Webster, J. (2005). The assessment and implementation of animal welfare: Theory into practice. Revue Scientifique et Technique-Office International des Epizooties, 24, 723–734.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Filiep Vanhonacker
    • 1
  • Wim Verbeke
    • 1
  • Els Van Poucke
    • 2
  • Zuzanna Pieniak
    • 1
  • Griet Nijs
    • 2
  • Frank Tuyttens
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural EconomicsGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Animal SciencesInstitute for Agricultural and Fisheries ResearchGhentBelgium

Personalised recommendations