A systematic review of public attitudes, perceptions and behaviours towards production diseases associated with farm animal welfare

  1. Lookup NU author(s)
  2. Beth Clark
  3. Dr Gavin Stewart
  4. Dr Luca Panzone
  5. Professor Ilias Kyriazakis
  6. Professor Lynn Frewer
Author(s)Clark B, Stewart GB, Panzone LA, Kyriazakis I, Frewer LJ
Publication type Article
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
ISSN (print)1187-7863
ISSN (electronic)1573-322X
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Increased productivity may have negative impacts on farm animal welfare (FAW) in modern animal production systems. Efficiency gains in production are primarily thought to be due to the intensification of production, and this has been associated with in increased incidence of production diseases, which can negatively impact upon FAW. While there is a considerable body of research into consumer attitudes towards FAW, the extent to which this relates specifically to a reduction in production diseases in intensive systems, and whether the increased incidence of diseases represents a barrier to consumer acceptance of their increased use, requires further investigation. Therefore a systematic review of public attitudes towards FAW was conducted, with a specific focus on production diseases in intensive systems. Four databases were searched to identify relevant studies. A screening process, using a set of pre-determined inclusion criteria, identified 80 studies, with the strength of evidence and uncertainty assessed for each. A thematic analysis led to the identification of 6 overarching themes constructed from 15 subthemes. The results demonstrate that the public are concerned about FAW in modern production systems. Concern varied in relation to age, gender, education and familiarity with farming. Naturalness and humane treatment were central to what was considered good welfare. An evidence gap was highlighted in relation to attitudes towards specific production diseases, with no studies specifically addressing this. However, the prophylactic use of antibiotics was identified as a concern. A number of dissonance strategies were adopted by consumers to enable guilt free meat consumption.
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