Society's view of farm animal husbandry

Dossier

Kalb mit Mutterkuh.

That society is rejecting certain conditions in farm animal husbandry today is nothing new. To lower the potential for social conflict, it is important to identify the specific concerns and demands society has regarding the modern husbandry of farm animals. Solutions can be found in specific adjustments of agricultural production systems and in better communication.


Modern agriculture is an intensively discussed topic also attributed to recurring food scandals. Here, the main focus of criticism is on animal husbandry. In this context “factory farming” is often mentioned. 

What is the criticism based on? How does society perceive animal husbandry and what are its expectations? Which husbandry conditions are assessed as most animal-friendly?

The Thünen Institute is analysing society’s perception and expectations in depth to take a differentiated look at the criticism. Eventually, this can help to further develop agricultural production methods. This is crucial to increase the social acceptance of farm animal husbandry.

Latest study results show, among other things, that for pig production a lack of available living space is seen as the main point of criticism. Accordingly, the most important issues in pig production are more space for the animals, mobility and the availability of materials for the pigs to root in and manipulate, as well as outdoor access and no prophylactic treatment with antibiotics. A lot of respondents link behavioural disorders and the increased use of pharmaceuticals to a lack of space.

Latest study results show, among other things, that for pig production a lack of available living space is seen as the main point of criticism. Accordingly, the most important issues in pig production are more space for the animals, mobility and the availability of materials for the pigs to root in and manipulate, as well as outdoor access and no prophylactic treatment with antibiotics. A lot of respondents link behavioural disorders and the increased use of pharmaceuticals to a lack of space.

Due to their statements the respondents were categorized into three groups:

  • The opponents of modern pig farming are mostly female and have a profound knowledge of agriculture. The primary responsibility for animal welfare is placed with the consumers, who are perceived to be too strongly price orientated and to consume too much meat. The state needs to strengthen regulations and to improve control.
  • The group of moderates mainly consists of male persons with little knowledge of the topic. They see the main responsibility as resting with the farmers and the processing firms since they are seen as being too profit-oriented.
  • Mainly male and uninformed persons comprise the group of tolerating. They primarily blame farmers for negative developments in agriculture.

Detailed results (in German) can be found in:
Erwartungen der Gesellschaft an die Landwirtschaft. Gutachten im Auftrag der Stiftung für Westfälische Landschaft in Münster (2013)
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