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Pig in the middle: farmers and the delivery of farm animal welfare standards

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to examine the attitude of UK pig farmers to the delivery of improved farm animal welfare standards and to investigate how they contribute to this objective through their membership of a range of different farm assurance schemes. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The analysis focuses on three main groups of pig farmers: farmers engaged in conventional farm assurance schemes; farmers participating in specific animal welfare schemes; and certified organic farmers. In total 54 farmers were interviewed about their participation in farm assurance schemes and their attitudes to animal welfare and towards the retailers and consumers they supply. Each answer was analysed individually and a list of themes identified for each type of scheme. These were compared and synthesised in an overall analysis. Findings ‐ The analysis identified how differently or similarly the different groups of farmers viewed the issues related to animal welfare. The findings revealed that, while farmers shared some attitudes regardless of the schemes in which they participated, there were differences between schemes in certain key areas such as farmers' motives for participation. Research limitations/implications ‐ Although the sample was limited to England (the main focus of pig production in the UK) and was not random, farmers were selected to reflect the geographical distribution of production and the range of relevant schemes. Originality/value ‐ This study adds to the limited literature that focuses on farmers' views, attitudes and perceptions with regard to animal welfare. The paper is of value to stakeholders involved in the food chain who have an interest in animal welfare such as farmers, retailers, consumers and policy makers.

Keywords: Agriculture; Animal husbandry; United Kingdom

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00070700710835723

Publication date: October 30, 2007

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