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Impact of economics on animal welfare

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The HSA's meeting in Portsmouth followed an international symposium organised by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW), which was held on June 28 and 29, also in Portsmouth. John Bonner reports on some highlights from the conference, which discussed the economic incentives and constraints in improving the welfare of animals.

Paying for welfare

Consumers are prepared to pay more for food produced from cattle kept in high welfare systems – but they care less about the conditions in which broiler chickens are housed, and pigs fall even lower down in their list of priorities.

So said agricultural economist Richard Bennett, who explained his work on public attitudes to welfare. He and his team at Reading university have been developing a method for estimating the value placed on farm animal welfare by consumers to help inform decisions on changing management systems and to help guide public policy decisions. They developed a linear 100-point scale applicable to assessments of the welfare of any species. Any husbandry system scoring below 40 would be illegal under EU legislation, 70 would equate to a good quality of life and 100 would equal the highest possible welfare standards, he explained.

The scale was used as part of a survey in which people were asked to make decisions on which animal products they would buy and how much they were prepared to …

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