Barriers and levers of enhancing animal welfare in organic and low-input outdoor production: Insights from a supply chain survey
Avainsanat:free range, pig, poultry, measure, market incentive
Animal welfare is an essential part of the sustainability of animal production. While low-input farming, such as organic animal production, is often considered animal-friendly, several ways to enhance animal welfare in low-input animal production exist. However, currently there is little information on how farmers and other supply chain actors view different innovations and tools which may influence animal welfare in low-input outdoor and organic production systems. The aim of this study was to examine farmers’ and experts’ reactions to new approaches to pig and poultry production, with special attention to their animal welfare-related measures. The reactions were tested formally in by using a quantitative survey instrument in nine European countries (Finland, UK, France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Romania). In the survey, respondents’ views on production practices and novel measures were asked. These included aspects such as applicability and advantages and disadvantages of various measures such as avoiding mutilations, using dual-purpose or local breeds, or in-ovo sexing. The data included altogether 218 responses from nine countries. Differences between countries were tested and groups of respondents were identified. The results suggest that supply side stakeholders foresee the welfare benefits and some disadvantages of welfare improving measures proposed to them. However, they also indicate that several measures were considered inapplicable despite their benefits. Inadequate financial provisions to adopt a measure was considered as one of the most important reasons for inapplicability of a measure. This may imply either high costs of implementing measures of low market incentives or perceived low demand for animal-friendly products. Other barriers for adopting welfare-friendly measures included farm-specific factors such as limitations imposed by housing. The respondents indicated a high relative preference for feeding, breeding, shelter from predators and the use of vaccines and anti-parasitic treatments to the provision of enrichments and nesting material to pigs, and to mutilations. Farmers agreed that environmental enrichments are important welfare-improving levers and preferred their use in low-input pig and poultry production. Animal breeding-related measures in pig production were perceived quite favorably by supply side stakeholders. Despite their welfare benefits, farmers in some countries had quite high preference towards maintaining castration and tail docking in pig and beak trimming in broiler production as part of their production method.