Special Issue "Human and Animal Sensitivity: How Stock-People and Consumer Perception Can Affect Animal Welfare"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Welfare".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2019)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Fabio Napolitano

Universita degli Studi della Basilicata, SAFE, Potenza, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Applied animal behaviour, Animal welfare assessment, Acceptability of animal-based products

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are proposing a Special Issue based on an oxymoron: although animal welfare is all about how the animals perceive the surrounding environment, the actual welfare of the animals is dependent on how the stakeholders perceive and weigh animal welfare, as they can either directly (i.e., through stock-people interacting with the animals), or indirectly (e.g., because retailers and consumers are willing to pay more for high welfare animal-based products) affect the way animals are kept and handled in the farm, while they are being transported and are at slaughter.

“How to improve stock-people attitude and behaviour towards the animals? How to increase consumer sensitivity to animal welfare issues?” These are only some of the questions that will be addressed in this Special Issue.

The entire food chain is at stake. We are, therefore, looking for cross-discipline studies that cover aspects ranging from animal science to social/consumer sciences and psychology with a unified goal: collecting and disseminating information suitable to promote the continuous enhancement of animal welfare by improving stakeholders’ perception of animal welfare.

Prof. Fabio Napolitano
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • animal welfare
  • animal behaviour
  • emotional state
  • human-animal interaction
  • stock-people attitude
  • stock-people behaviour
  • retailers
  • consumer perception
  • consumer willingness to pay
  • marketing

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Human-Animal Interactions in Dairy Buffalo Farms
Animals 2019, 9(5), 246; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050246
Received: 15 February 2019 / Revised: 18 April 2019 / Accepted: 12 May 2019 / Published: 16 May 2019
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Abstract
This study aimed to assess the relationship between stockperson behavior and buffalo behavior. The research was carried out in 27 buffalo farms. The behavior of stockpeople and animals during milking and the avoidance distance at the feeding place were recorded. Recordings were repeated [...] Read more.
This study aimed to assess the relationship between stockperson behavior and buffalo behavior. The research was carried out in 27 buffalo farms. The behavior of stockpeople and animals during milking and the avoidance distance at the feeding place were recorded. Recordings were repeated within one month to assess test-retest reliability. A high degree of test-retest reliability was observed for all the variables with Spearman rank correlation coefficients (rs) ranging from 0.578 (p = 0.002, df = 25) for the number of kicks performed during milking to 0.937 (p < 0.001, df = 25) for the percentage of animals moving when approached by ≤ 0.5 m. The number of negative stockperson interactions correlated positively with the number of kicks during milking (rs = 0.421, p < 0.028, df = 25) and the percentage of animals injected with oxytocin (rs = 0.424, p < 0.027), whereas the percentage of negative stockperson interactions correlated positively with the percentage of buffaloes moving when approached at a distance >1 m (rs = 0.415, p < 0.031, df = 25). In a subsample of 14 farms, milk yield was correlated positively with the number of positive interactions (rs = 0.588, p < 0.027, df = 12) and correlated negatively with the number of steps performed by the animals during milking (rs = −0.820, p < 0.001, df = 12). This study showed that the quality of stockpeople interactions may affect buffalo behavior and production. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Taiwanese Consumers’ Willingness to Pay for Broiler Welfare Improvement
Animals 2019, 9(5), 231; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050231
Received: 21 March 2019 / Revised: 5 May 2019 / Accepted: 7 May 2019 / Published: 10 May 2019
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Abstract
In this study, we explored the willingness to pay (WTP) for broilers raised under the high welfare system. The interval data model and the ordered probit model were used to investigate the factors that affect consumers’ WTP for broiler meat produced by farm [...] Read more.
In this study, we explored the willingness to pay (WTP) for broilers raised under the high welfare system. The interval data model and the ordered probit model were used to investigate the factors that affect consumers’ WTP for broiler meat produced by farm animal welfare (FAW), practice. Our results from both methods suggest that socioeconomic characteristics such as education level, income level, gender, and age significantly affect consumers’ WTP. The food safety concerns of consumers and perceived consumer effectiveness also influence consumers’ WTP. Using the interval data method, we computed the mean and median of the estimated WTP from our survey sample. The mean was 46.7745 New Taiwanese dollar per kilogram. The marginal effects of the different variables are also presented. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Text Mining Analysis to Evaluate Stakeholders’ Perception Regarding Welfare of Equines, Small Ruminants, and Turkeys
Animals 2019, 9(5), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050225
Received: 25 March 2019 / Revised: 3 May 2019 / Accepted: 4 May 2019 / Published: 8 May 2019
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Abstract
Welfare of animals significantly depends on how stakeholders perceive their needs and behave in a way to favor production systems that promote better welfare outcomes. This study aimed at investigating stakeholders’ perception of the welfare of equines, small ruminants, and turkeys using text [...] Read more.
Welfare of animals significantly depends on how stakeholders perceive their needs and behave in a way to favor production systems that promote better welfare outcomes. This study aimed at investigating stakeholders’ perception of the welfare of equines, small ruminants, and turkeys using text mining analysis. A survey composed by open-ended questions referring to different aspects of animal welfare was carried out. Text mining analysis was performed. A total of 270 surveys were filled out (horses = 122, sheep = 81, goats = 36, turkeys = 18, donkeys = 13). The respondents (41% veterinarians) came from 32 different countries. To describe welfare requirements, the words “feeding” and “water” were the most frequently used in all the species, meaning that respondents considered the welfare principle “good feeding” as the most relevant. The word “environment” was considered particularly important for turkeys, as well as the word “dry”, never mentioned for other species. Horses stakeholders also considered “exercise” and “proper training” important. Goat stakeholders’ concerns are often expressed by the word “space”, probably because goats are often intensively managed in industrialized countries. Although the sample was too small to be representative, text mining analysis seems to be a promising method to investigate stakeholders’ perception of animal welfare, as it emphasizes their real perception, without the constraints deriving by close-ended questions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Human-Animal Relationship in Australian Caged Laying Hens
Animals 2019, 9(5), 211; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050211
Received: 9 April 2019 / Revised: 29 April 2019 / Accepted: 29 April 2019 / Published: 2 May 2019
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Abstract
Studies on farm animals have shown relationships between stockperson attitudes and behaviour and farm animal fear, stress and productivity. This study investigated how the avoidance behaviour of Australian commercial caged laying hens may be related to stockperson behaviour, albumen corticosterone, and the number [...] Read more.
Studies on farm animals have shown relationships between stockperson attitudes and behaviour and farm animal fear, stress and productivity. This study investigated how the avoidance behaviour of Australian commercial caged laying hens may be related to stockperson behaviour, albumen corticosterone, and the number of weeks producing within 5% of peak egg production. Nineteen laying houses were assessed over 3 days. Fear of humans in hens, based on their avoidance response to an unfamiliar human, was assessed using two behavioural tests. Albumen corticosterone concentrations were measured from egg samples collected immediately prior to behavioural testing. Stockperson attitudes were assessed using a questionnaire and stockperson behaviour was observed over 2 days. Productivity records for each laying house were also obtained. The duration of peak production was negatively related to both noise made by the stockperson and hen avoidance. No relationship between stockperson behaviour or attitudes and hen avoidance was found, but stockpeople with negative attitudes made more noise. In conclusion, this study could not confirm a relationship between stockperson behaviour and hen avoidance behaviour for Australian caged laying hens. However, this study did confirm a relationship between hen avoidance behaviour, albumen corticosterone concentration, and the duration of peak egg production. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Towards the Abandonment of Surgical Castration in Pigs: How is Immunocastration Perceived by Italian Consumers?
Animals 2019, 9(5), 198; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050198
Received: 19 March 2019 / Revised: 21 April 2019 / Accepted: 23 April 2019 / Published: 26 April 2019
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Abstract
Immunocastration of pigs represents an alternative method to surgical castration, being more respectful of animal welfare. However, this new technology may not be accepted by consumers due to their perception of possible risks tied to the use of the product, thus representing a [...] Read more.
Immunocastration of pigs represents an alternative method to surgical castration, being more respectful of animal welfare. However, this new technology may not be accepted by consumers due to their perception of possible risks tied to the use of the product, thus representing a concern for the production sector. The study aimed at verifying the attitude of Italian consumers towards immunocastration and to assess whether their perception can be affected by science-based information on advantages and disadvantages of immunocastration. A total of 969 consumers (divided in three groups representative of the Italian population) were contacted and asked to complete an online questionnaire. Only technical (neutral) information on immunocastration was provided to the first group; the second and the third group received information on the advantages (+) and disadvantages (-) of the technique, shown in reverse order (+/- and -/+, respectively). The level of information did not affect consumers’ perception of immunocastration. Overall, immunocastration is perceived in a predominantly positive manner (54.5%), with a relatively low level of risk perception (34.2%), and a good willingness to pay more for meat deriving from immunocastrated pigs (+18.7%). Full article
Open AccessArticle
Citizens’ and Farmers’ Framing of ‘Positive Animal Welfare’ and the Implications for Framing Positive Welfare in Communication
Animals 2019, 9(4), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9040147
Received: 4 March 2019 / Revised: 20 March 2019 / Accepted: 1 April 2019 / Published: 4 April 2019
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Abstract
Human perception can depend on how an individual frames information in thought and how information is framed in communication. For example, framing something positively, instead of negatively, can change an individual’s response. This is of relevance to ‘positive animal welfare’, which places greater [...] Read more.
Human perception can depend on how an individual frames information in thought and how information is framed in communication. For example, framing something positively, instead of negatively, can change an individual’s response. This is of relevance to ‘positive animal welfare’, which places greater emphasis on farm animals being provided with opportunities for positive experiences. However, little is known about how this framing of animal welfare may influence the perception of key animal welfare stakeholders. Through a qualitative interview study with farmers and citizens, undertaken in Scotland, UK, this paper explores what positive animal welfare evokes to these key welfare stakeholders and highlights the implications of such internal frames for effectively communicating positive welfare in society. Results indicate that citizens make sense of positive welfare by contrasting positive and negative aspects of welfare, and thus frame it as animals having ‘positive experiences’ or being ‘free from negative experiences’. Farmers draw from their existing frames of animal welfare to frame positive welfare as ‘good husbandry’, ‘proactive welfare improvement’ or the ‘animal’s point of view’. Implications of such internal frames (e.g., the triggering of ‘negative welfare’ associations by the word ‘positive’) for the effective communication of positive welfare are also presented. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Benefits of Improving Animal Welfare from the Perspective of Livestock Stakeholders across Asia
Animals 2019, 9(4), 123; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9040123
Received: 7 February 2019 / Revised: 19 March 2019 / Accepted: 25 March 2019 / Published: 28 March 2019
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Abstract
In this study, 17 focus group meetings were held with livestock industry leaders in geographically dispersed areas of China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, India and Bangladesh, regarding animal welfare issues, potential solutions and attitudes. Livestock leaders were asked ‘what do you see as the [...] Read more.
In this study, 17 focus group meetings were held with livestock industry leaders in geographically dispersed areas of China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, India and Bangladesh, regarding animal welfare issues, potential solutions and attitudes. Livestock leaders were asked ‘what do you see as the benefits to improving animal welfare’ and later to discuss the potential benefits and rank them according to their associated importance. While differences existed by country, the most important perceived benefit area across all countries was financial in nature, primarily focussed on the potential to increase the productive output of the animals and to improve meat and product quality. However, doubt existed around the ability to increase profit against the cost of improving animal welfare, particularly in China. Human health benefits and the tie to human welfare and community livelihood were considered most important in India and Bangladesh, and animal-focussed benefits were not significant in any countries, except India and, to a lesser extent, Bangladesh. Thus, improving animal welfare for the sake of the animals is unlikely to be a compelling argument. The results presented here can be used to create meaningful mutual ground between those that advocate improvement of animal welfare and the stakeholders that have the ability to implement it, i.e., the livestock industry. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Knowledge of Stakeholders in the Livestock Industries of East and Southeast Asia about Welfare during Transport and Slaughter and Its Relation to Their Attitudes to Improving Animal Welfare
Animals 2019, 9(3), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9030099
Received: 12 March 2019 / Accepted: 18 March 2019 / Published: 19 March 2019
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Abstract
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) sets standards and guidelines for international animal welfare for the international livestock trade. The growing economic advancement in the East and Southeast Asian region suggested the potential benefit of a research study to examine stakeholders’ understanding [...] Read more.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) sets standards and guidelines for international animal welfare for the international livestock trade. The growing economic advancement in the East and Southeast Asian region suggested the potential benefit of a research study to examine stakeholders’ understanding of animal welfare during the transport and slaughter of livestock. A survey of stakeholders’ knowledge of livestock welfare in the transport and slaughter industries was conducted in four Southeast Asian countries, Malaysia, China, Vietnam and Thailand, in association with trainer and stakeholder workshops conducted in each country. The attitudes of participants towards animal welfare during slaughter and transport were also identified. Knowledge scores were in accordance with the respondents’ assessment of their own knowledge level. The biggest knowledge improvement was among Thai respondents, who tended to be younger and less experienced than in other countries. The respondents with the biggest improvement in knowledge scores were most likely to be involved in the dairy industry and least likely to be involved in the sheep and goat industries, with meat processors and those involved in pig or poultry production intermediate. The respondents who obtained their knowledge from multiple sources had most knowledge, but it increased the least after training. Connections between attitudes to improving animal welfare and knowledge were limited, being mainly confined to ambivalent responses about their attitudes. The study suggests that knowledge can be improved in animal welfare training programs focused on livestock welfare around transport and slaughter, but that local cultural backgrounds must be considered in designing the program. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Development and Evaluation of ‘Farm Animal Welfare’: An Educational Computer Game for Children
Animals 2019, 9(3), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9030091
Received: 9 February 2019 / Revised: 5 March 2019 / Accepted: 8 March 2019 / Published: 13 March 2019
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Abstract
Many children growing up in urban areas of Western countries have limited contact with and knowledge of farm animals and food production systems. Education can play an important role in children’s understanding of farm animal welfare issues, however, most education provided focuses on [...] Read more.
Many children growing up in urban areas of Western countries have limited contact with and knowledge of farm animals and food production systems. Education can play an important role in children’s understanding of farm animal welfare issues, however, most education provided focuses on pets. There is a need to develop new farm animal welfare interventions for young children. This study examines the process of designing, developing, and evaluating the effectiveness of a new theoretically-driven digital game to teach children, aged 6–13 years, about farm animal welfare. ‘Farm Animal Welfare’ aimed to promote children’s knowledge about animal welfare, promote beliefs about animal sentience, and promote positive attitudes and compassion. A quasi-experimental design was carried out, using self-report questionnaires that children (n = 133, test = 69, control = 64) completed in the classroom. Test and control groups were from different schools and the control group did not engage in the intervention. Findings indicate a positive impact on beliefs about animal minds, knowledge about animal welfare needs, and knowledge about welfare in different farming systems, but there was no change in compassion or attitudes about cruelty. This study presents the first evaluation of a digital animal welfare education intervention for children, demonstrating the benefits of incorporating ‘serious games’ into farm animal welfare education. The findings will inform future practice around farm animal welfare education interventions for primary school children. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Attitudes of Young Adults toward Animals—The Case of High School Students in Belgium and The Netherlands
Animals 2019, 9(3), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9030088
Received: 7 January 2019 / Revised: 26 February 2019 / Accepted: 27 February 2019 / Published: 11 March 2019
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Abstract
The social context and culture in which individuals grow shapes their perspectives through life. Early on, children learn about animals through storybooks, animated movies, toys, and through interactions with pets and wildlife, and will slowly start to build beliefs around those experiences. Their [...] Read more.
The social context and culture in which individuals grow shapes their perspectives through life. Early on, children learn about animals through storybooks, animated movies, toys, and through interactions with pets and wildlife, and will slowly start to build beliefs around those experiences. Their attitudes towards animals will be influenced by a number of factors, including: sex, age, nationality/ethnicity, residence area, animal-related activities and hobbies, food habits, culture/religion education, and pet ownership. A case study of Dutch and Belgian high school students (aged 12–21) investigated the attitudes of young people towards animals. By using the Animal Attitude Scale (AAS) and the Animal Issue Scale (AIS) questionnaires, our study shows that levels of concern for animal welfare were distinctly higher among: female participants; those who ate little to no meat; Belgian students; pet owners; and those who had been to a zoo at least once. In general, students who reported having more contact with animals also had more positive attitudes towards animals. To understand younger generations and their attitudes toward animals is to understand how future generations will look towards and treat our fellow animals, with which we share the planet Earth. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Farmer Perceptions of Pig Aggression Compared to Animal-Based Measures of Fight Outcome
Animals 2019, 9(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9010022
Received: 20 November 2018 / Revised: 20 December 2018 / Accepted: 7 January 2019 / Published: 10 January 2019
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Abstract
Several animal welfare issues persist in practice despite extensive research which has been linked to the unwillingness of stakeholders to make changes. For example, most farmers do not perceive pig aggression to be a problem that requires action despite the fact that stress [...] Read more.
Several animal welfare issues persist in practice despite extensive research which has been linked to the unwillingness of stakeholders to make changes. For example, most farmers do not perceive pig aggression to be a problem that requires action despite the fact that stress and injuries are common, and that several solutions exist. Frequent exposure to animal suffering could affect farmer responses to distressed animals. This study investigated for the first time whether this occurs, using pig aggression as a focus. Using video clips, 90 pig farmers judged the severity of aggression, level of pig exhaustion and the strength of their own emotional response. Their judgments were compared to objective measures of severity (pigs’ skin lesions and blood lactate), and against control groups with similar pig experience (10 pig veterinarians) and without experience (26 agricultural students; 24 animal science students). Famers did not show desensitization to aggression. However, all groups underestimated the outcome of aggression when they did not see the fight occurring as compared to witnessing a fight in progress. We suggest that farmers be provided with evidence of the economic and welfare impact of aggression as indicated by lesions and that they be advised to score lesions on affected animals. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sheep Farmers’ Perception of Welfare and Pain Associated with Routine Husbandry Practices in Chile
Animals 2018, 8(12), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8120225
Received: 16 October 2018 / Revised: 19 November 2018 / Accepted: 24 November 2018 / Published: 28 November 2018
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Abstract
Considering the public concern about the welfare of farm animals during routine husbandry practices, this study aimed to determine how husbandry practices are carried out in Chilean farms, sheep farmers’ perceptions of animal welfare and pain, and factors that affect them, as well [...] Read more.
Considering the public concern about the welfare of farm animals during routine husbandry practices, this study aimed to determine how husbandry practices are carried out in Chilean farms, sheep farmers’ perceptions of animal welfare and pain, and factors that affect them, as well as the level of agreement among farmers in the recognition of pain associated with these practices. Using a self-administered survey, participants were asked about their sociodemographic information, how husbandry practices are carried out in their farms, and their pain perception for seven of these common husbandry procedures using a numerical rating scale (0 to 10). A total of 165 farmers completed the survey and perceived castration and tail docking as the most painful practices in lambs (median pain score 10 vs. 8, p < 0.05). Pain perception was associated with the method used for the specific husbandry practices, the farmers’ educational level, the farm size, and flock size (p < 0.05). There was a fair to good level of agreement beyond chance (p < 0.05) in the recognition of pain associated with the most painful practices. In general, husbandry practices are not carried out in young animals, use painful methods, without using analgesics, which may have a negative impact on animal welfare. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Animal Ethical Views and Perception of Animal Pain in Veterinary Students
Animals 2018, 8(12), 220; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8120220
Received: 12 November 2018 / Revised: 19 November 2018 / Accepted: 20 November 2018 / Published: 23 November 2018
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Abstract
Veterinary students face several ethical challenges during their curriculum. We used the Animal Ethics Dilemma to study animal ethical views of Finnish veterinary students, and also asked them to score the level of pain perception in 13 different species. Based on the 218 [...] Read more.
Veterinary students face several ethical challenges during their curriculum. We used the Animal Ethics Dilemma to study animal ethical views of Finnish veterinary students, and also asked them to score the level of pain perception in 13 different species. Based on the 218 respondents, the utilitarian view was the dominating ethical view. Mammals were given higher pain scores than other animals. The proportion of the respect for nature view correlated negatively, and that of the animal rights view positively, with most animal pain scores. Fifth year students had a higher percentage of contractarian views, as compared to 1st and 3rd year students, but this might have been confounded by their age. Several pain perception scores increased with increasing study years. We conclude that the utilitarian view was clearly dominating, and that ethical views differed only slightly between students at different stages of their studies. Higher pain perception scores in students at a later stage of their studies might reflect an increased knowledge of animal capacities. Full article
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