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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Benchmarking Farm Animal Welfare—A Novel Tool for Cross-Country Comparison Applied to Pig Production and Pork Consumption

1
Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, 1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
2
Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, 1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
3
Department of Philosophy, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 4237, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(6), 955; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10060955
Received: 29 April 2020 / Revised: 23 May 2020 / Accepted: 30 May 2020 / Published: 31 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
In many countries, levels of animal welfare are driven by both national legislation and animal welfare labels. In order to assess what is being achieved at the national level, we developed a Benchmarking tool that combined information about legislation, welfare labels, market-shares, and expected welfare consequences. This tool was presented here and applied to pig production and pork consumption in five European countries. To assess how well a country is faring in terms of pig welfare, it was important not only to look at national pork production but also at the sourcing of pork by retailers and consumers since not all pork consumed in a country is produced domestically. Of the five countries studied, the three that have a large, export-oriented pig production industry—the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark—had lower welfare levels in their production than the two—UK and Sweden—that had smaller pig production, mainly serving the home market. However, since the UK and Sweden also imported pork for retail and consumption from countries with lower levels of welfare, the contrast in welfare levels was smaller in consumption than in production.
A pluralist approach to farm animal welfare, combining animal welfare legislation with market-driven initiatives, has developed in many countries. To enable cross-country comparisons of pig welfare, a number of welfare dimensions, covering the features typically modified in legislative and market-driven welfare initiatives aimed at pig production, were defined. Five academic welfare experts valued the different welfare states within each dimension on a 0–10 scale, then assessed the relative contribution of each dimension to overall welfare on a 1–5 scale. By combining these values and weights with an inventory of pig welfare initiatives in five countries, the additional welfare generated by each initiative was calculated. Together with information on the national coverage of each initiative, the Benchmark value for each country’s production and consumption of pork could be calculated on a scale from 0 to 100. Two (Sweden and the UK) had a much higher Benchmark value than the rest. However, there was a drop in the Benchmark for consumption in Sweden and the UK (indicating imports from countries with lower-Benchmark values for production). Even though the experts differed in the values and weights ascribed to different initiatives, they were largely in agreement in their ranking of the countries. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare; animal welfare assessment; animal welfare legislation; market-driven animal welfare; pig production; pork animal welfare; animal welfare assessment; animal welfare legislation; market-driven animal welfare; pig production; pork
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sandøe, P.; Hansen, H.O.; Rhode, H.L.H.; Houe, H.; Palmer, C.; Forkman, B.; Christensen, T. Benchmarking Farm Animal Welfare—A Novel Tool for Cross-Country Comparison Applied to Pig Production and Pork Consumption. Animals 2020, 10, 955. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10060955

AMA Style

Sandøe P, Hansen HO, Rhode HLH, Houe H, Palmer C, Forkman B, Christensen T. Benchmarking Farm Animal Welfare—A Novel Tool for Cross-Country Comparison Applied to Pig Production and Pork Consumption. Animals. 2020; 10(6):955. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10060955

Chicago/Turabian Style

Sandøe, Peter; Hansen, Henning O.; Rhode, Helle L.H.; Houe, Hans; Palmer, Clare; Forkman, Björn; Christensen, Tove. 2020. "Benchmarking Farm Animal Welfare—A Novel Tool for Cross-Country Comparison Applied to Pig Production and Pork Consumption" Animals 10, no. 6: 955. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10060955

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