Consumer preferences for farm animal welfare: results from a telephone survey of US households

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Abstract:

As animal industry and animal advocacy groups debate how farm animals should be treated, little research has focused on the attitudes of consumers in the United States. This study utilises results of a representative telephone survey to measure consumer attitudes towards farm animal welfare, and investigates how these attitudes vary across individuals. The survey finds that consumers desire high standards of animal care, even if it raises food prices and involves government regulation. Support is particularly strong from females, Democrats, and residents of the Northeastern United States. To provide high standards of animal care, consumers as a whole perceive allowing animals to exhibit natural behaviours and exercise outdoors to be more important than protection from other animals, shelter, socialisation, and comfortable bedding. Consumers vary in their perceptions though, and are divided into three classes: Naturalists, Price Seekers, and Basic Welfarists. Naturalists place great importance on allowing animals to exhibit natural behaviours and exercise outdoors, and comprise 46% of the sample. Price Seekers, comprising 14% of the sample, are primarily concerned with low prices. Basic Welfarists make up 40% of the respondents, and value animal welfare but perceive it can be achieved by simply providing food, water, and treatment for injury and disease. This last group perceives amenities, such as access to outdoors and ability to exhibit natural behaviours, unimportant for the well-being of farm animals.

Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; CONSUMER ATTITUDES; CONSUMER PREFERENCES; FACTORY FARMING; FARM ANIMAL; FOOD PREFERENCES

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2010

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