Animal science student attitudes to farm animal welfare

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Understanding attitudes toward farm animal welfare has the potential to foster an important link between the researching of welfare issues and the implementation of those findings. In this study, we examined the attitudes and knowledge base of university animal science students, who represent both potential consumers and future industry stakeholders. Eighty-seven students were surveyed to assess attitudes and knowledge base regarding farm animal welfare. In 2003, 58 introductory animal science (INTRO) and 29 applied animal behavior (AN BEH) students were surveyed at the beginning (week 1, Early) and end (week 14, Late) of spring semester using a 58-item questionnaire. Evidence of students' knowledge base was lower than anticipated. AN BEH students demonstrated a higher knowledge base than did INTRO students. Some clear species perception differences were exposed. Students perceived that horses felt pain more similarly to humans than did other species, experienced boredom more similarly to humans than did other species; and students showed more concern about horses being kept in industry-typical scenarios than they did for other species. When presented with hypothetical (but industry-typical) scenarios for egg production units, dairy operations, pig facilities and horse training facilities, more than 50% of all sampled groups stated they would either "not be very comfortable buying/using product from said facility" or "would not buy/use product from said facility." These data lend support to the concept that, even amongst a population that should be knowledgeable about animal agriculture, awareness of modern animal agriculture practices is low, and does not necessarily represent that concern is absent.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2006

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