UK survey shows narrowing gap between farmer and public views

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UK survey shows narrowing gap between farmer and public views

June 12, 2021

New research from SRUC compares the attitudes of farmers and the general public towards farm animal health and welfare and finds more similarities than expected.

Farmers and the public want farm animals to be healthy and able to express their natural behaviors, new research shows.

A survey by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) compared the opinions of farmers and the public on the importance of health and natural behaviors in livestock. He also explored how these views are influenced by how health problems are minimized and natural behaviors are promoted.

There is a general belief that farmers focus on maintaining animal health, while the public is more likely to wish animals could exhibit natural behaviors. But this study, published in Frontiers in Animal Science, found more similarities than differences when comparing the views of the two groups.

In addition to wanting animals to be able to express natural behaviors, the responses from both groups imply that the level of health benefit is the most important factor when assessing animal welfare. However, the study found that farmers judge situations where health problems are not minimized, but natural behavior is supported, more negatively than the public.

The survey of more than 168 farmers and 800 members of the public also found that the agricultural sector, production system and context affects farmers’ attitudes towards the importance of health and natural behaviors. There were also differences in public attitudes, with being a vegetarian, vegan, or flexitarian increasing the likelihood of strongly rating natural behaviors as important.

Study co-author Dr Belinda Vigors, social scientist at SRUC, commented: “This study shows that while there are differences between farmers and members of the public, there are also differences between farmers and members of the public. key similarities.

“It is important to note that it is very clear that farmers and the public want farm animals to be both healthy and able to express their natural behaviors. The results of the study are relevant to better understand the expectations of farmers and members of the public and what they consider important for animal welfare.






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