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Attitudes of Dutch pig farmers towards animal welfare

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to provide insights into the rationale of Dutch pig farmers concerning animal welfare and animal-friendly production. It aims to show the interrelations between farmers' production logic, their ideas about good farming and animal welfare and the characteristics of Dutch pig production. Design/methodology/approach ‐ In total, 62 Dutch pig farmers, participating in quality assurance schemes with different focuses on animal welfare, were interviewed about animal welfare, legislation, quality assurance schemes, and possibilities for animal-friendly production. Findings ‐ Farmers' attitudes towards animal welfare and the implementation of animal welfare measures follow their understanding of good farming practices, which in turn are strongly influenced by the rationale of the market in which they operate. Two groups can be distinguished. Farmers operating in markets that focus on price and production-efficiency tend to define animal welfare in terms of animal health and optimal zoo-technical performance. Farmers operating in markets with a broader sense of quality, which incorporates values such as naturalness, animal welfare and care for the environment, define animal welfare in terms of the room the animals have to express natural behaviour. Originality/value ‐ This article provides insights into the perception of Dutch pig farmers about animal welfare and their readiness to change towards more animal-friendly production methods. It points to the interrelations between animal welfare attitudes and behaviour, farmers' perception of good farming and the production logic of the farm. These interrelated influences should be borne in mind by policy makers and researchers seeking to raise welfare levels in pig production.

Keywords: Animal husbandry; Farmers; Quality assurance; Quality standards; The Netherlands

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-10-30

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