Next Article in Journal
Effects of Adding Various Silage Additives to Whole Corn Crops at Ensiling on Performance, Rumen Fermentation, and Serum Physiological Characteristics of Growing-Finishing Cattle
Next Article in Special Issue
Investigation of a Standardized Qualitative Behaviour Assessment and Exploration of Potential Influencing Factors on the Emotional State of Dairy Calves
Previous Article in Journal
Spinal Reactive Oxygen Species and Oxidative Damage Mediate Chronic Pain in Lame Dairy Cows
Previous Article in Special Issue
The Effects of Play Behavior, Feeding, and Time of Day on Salivary Concentrations of sIgA in Calves
Open AccessArticle

What Are the Positives? Exploring Positive Welfare Indicators in a Qualitative Interview Study with Livestock Farmers

1
Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3RG, UK
2
Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, Penicuik, EH25 9RG, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(9), 694; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090694
Received: 6 August 2019 / Revised: 30 August 2019 / Accepted: 12 September 2019 / Published: 17 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Positive Aspects of Animal Welfare)
Positive animal welfare is a relatively new concept which promotes the welfare benefits of providing animals with greater opportunities for positive experiences, in addition to minimising negative experiences. However, little is known about farmers’ attitudes towards this, and their knowledge of positive welfare. This presents a significant hurdle for the promotion of positive welfare indicators on-farm, where their effective implementation may depend on their acceptance by farmers. In response, this study uses qualitative interviews to explore farmers’ positive welfare perspectives. It finds that several aspects, reflective of the literature on positive welfare indicators, are evident in farmers’ positive welfare-related discussions. These include animal autonomy, play, positive affect, positive human–animal relationships, social interaction and appropriate genetic selection. Such findings provide insights into what farmers consider are relevant to, and indicative of, positive welfare. In addition, this paper explores how farmers see their role in the provision of positive welfare. It finds that farmers largely consider their inputs should be focused on making sure their animals’ needs (e.g., resources) are met and negative experiences are reduced, and that positive welfare will arise naturally, or indirectly, out of this. The implications of these findings and their overlaps with the positive welfare literature are discussed.
To support the furtherance of positive animal welfare, there is a need to develop meaningful and practical positive welfare indicators for on-farm welfare assessment. Considering the perspectives of farmers is arguably critical in this regard. Doing so helps ensure positive welfare indicators reflect farmers’ existing welfare norms and attitudes and, are thus, of practical relevance to them. However, a key issue for such development is the dearth of knowledge on farmers’ perspectives of positive welfare. To address this, this study uses qualitative interviews to directly examine livestock farmers’ perspectives of positive welfare. Findings reveal that farmers describe elements of positive welfare which are broadly in line with indicators suggested in the positive welfare literature. These elements include animal autonomy, play, positive affect, positive human-animal relationships, social interaction, and appropriate genetic selection. Additionally, this study finds that farmers construct the reduction of negative aspects of welfare as their primary management concern and mostly construct positive welfare as arising indirectly from this. Insights into the importance that farmers of different sectors and systems give to different aspects of positive welfare indicators are also explored. The implications of these findings and the similitudes between farmers’ perspectives and the positive welfare literature are discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: positive animal welfare; positive animal welfare indicators; farmer attitudes; farmer knowledge; qualitative research; free elicitation narrative interviewing positive animal welfare; positive animal welfare indicators; farmer attitudes; farmer knowledge; qualitative research; free elicitation narrative interviewing
MDPI and ACS Style

Vigors, B.; Lawrence, A. What Are the Positives? Exploring Positive Welfare Indicators in a Qualitative Interview Study with Livestock Farmers. Animals 2019, 9, 694.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop