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Animals 2017, 7(4), 28; doi:10.3390/ani7040028

Stakeholder Perceptions of Welfare Issues and Indicators for Extensively Managed Sheep in Australia

1
Animal Science, University of New England, Armidale NSW 2350, Australia
2
CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation, Armidale NSW 2350, Australia
3
Animal Welfare Science Centre, The University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Clive J. C. Phillips
Received: 19 January 2017 / Revised: 11 March 2017 / Accepted: 18 March 2017 / Published: 23 March 2017
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Abstract

An online survey was designed to form the basis of a framework for the welfare assessment of extensively managed sheep in Australia. The survey focused on welfare compromise and useful welfare indicators. A total of 952 people completed the survey in its entirety, representing four stakeholder groups: Public (53.6%), Producer (27.4%), Scientist (9.9%), and Service provider (9.1%). Animal welfare was considered to be important by all participating groups in this survey (average score of 3.78/4). Respondents felt the welfare of grazing sheep was generally adequate but improvement was desired (2.98/5), with female members of the public rating sheep welfare significantly worse than other respondents (p < 0.05). Environmental issues were considered to pose the greatest risk to welfare (3.87/5), followed by heat stress (3.79), lameness (3.57) and husbandry practices (3.37). Key indicators recognised by all respondents were those associated with pain and fear (3.98/5), nutrition (4.23), mortality/management (4.27), food on offer (4.41) and number of illness/injures in a flock (4.33). There were gender and stakeholder differences in the perceived importance of both welfare issues and indicators with women and the public consistently rating issues (all p < 0.01) and indicators (all p < 0.05) to be of greater significance than other respondents. These results highlight the importance of including all stakeholders and an even balance of genders when developing a welfare framework that can address both practical and societal concerns. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare; attitudes; gender; general public; producers; survey; welfare indicators; welfare issues animal welfare; attitudes; gender; general public; producers; survey; welfare indicators; welfare issues
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Doughty, A.K.; Coleman, G.J.; Hinch, G.N.; Doyle, R.E. Stakeholder Perceptions of Welfare Issues and Indicators for Extensively Managed Sheep in Australia. Animals 2017, 7, 28.

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