Animal Welfare Perspectives of the Public in Australia
By Kendra Juurlink, B.Sc (Agr), Alberta Farm Animal Care
Consumers’ perspective of animal welfare across the world is an important topic for producers. Consumers have beliefs of what they consider as the ideal method of raising animals for meat consumption. Research has been done in Europe and the United States about this topic however, Australia presents an important area of concern from an economical and cultural perspective of agriculture.
A research study, Values of Australian Meat Consumers Related to Sheep and Beef Cattle Welfare: What Makes a Good Life and a Good Death? | SpringerLink, was completed to analyze the attitudes of participants regarding the animal welfare of beef and sheep being raised for meat consumption. A qualitative study was done using open-ended questions for focus groups to obtain responses from participants in the research study.
One finding of the study included the relationship between the producer and animal was an indicator of animal welfare. Another finding of the study was that participants avoided the topic of slaughter. One reason for this was that participants had limited knowledge about slaughter and were not interested in learning more about slaughter practices. Participants believed that animals should have a good life but also a “good death” and a right to do so.
Participants also believed that stress on the animals had an impact on animal welfare and meat quality. The participants believed that animals that travel long distances are placed under an extreme amount of stress which can result in poorer meat quality. This can impact the nutritional value of meat and the quality of life for the animal during transportation.
The study also addressed the beliefs of consumers regarding Halal slaughter which is a ritualistic method of slaughter according to some cultures which does not including stunning the animal prior to slaughter.
This research study is important for the economic benefits of production for producers. If consumers have negative perceptions of animal husbandry practices, then it could have negative implications for producers attempting to sell their products. Good animal welfare practices are also important for the overall well-being of farm animals.
Submit articles to Kendra Juurlink at [email protected]. If you have any questions, please e-mail Kendra, or call the Alberta Farm Animal Care office at 403-652-5111