Citizens’ Perception of Different Aspects Regarding German Livestock Production

Anja Rovers, Nanke Brümmer, Inken Christoph-Schulz


Farm animal husbandry and animal welfare still are of growing interest in our society. Studies show a mismatch of citizens’ expectations and the present situation in many countries. Therefore intensive livestock production systems seem to lose their societal acceptability. Especially modern pig and poultry production systems are criticized, but dairy farming is also affected. This can more and more be observed in Germany, one of the EU’s biggest livestock producing countries. Against this background, the Scientific Advisory Board on Agricultural Policy, Food and Consumer Health Protection at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture established guidelines to ensure prospective animal husbandry practices, accepted by the majority of the German society.

In this paper we present the actual perception of German citizens and the importance of different husbandry aspects based on seven of these guidelines. Thereby, pig, cattle and poultry production systems are considered and the animal species fattening pigs, dairy cattle as well as laying hens are compared. An online survey with at all 2.400 respondents was conducted in 2017.

The survey is based on a qualitative pilot study. Therefore citizens were invited for focus groups about the topics pig, poultry and cattle production in Germany. For each topic six focus groups (poultry: eight) took place in three (poultry: four) German cities. Participants discussed about their perception of actual animal husbandry with respect to housing systems, animal health and well-being, regarding the crucial points of the Scientific Advisory Board’s guidelines. Using content analysis, main present husbandry factors in participants’ perception were identified: flooring type, space per animal, fresh air supply, manipulable material, outdoor access and daylight.

Using a ranking procedure with these husbandry factors, main criticism points as well as sideshows could be identified for each of the three production systems, in particular fattening pig production, dairy cattle production and laying hens production. The results will contribute to establish livestock production systems in consensus with citizens’ preferences. Furthermore, results will be important for the constructions of upcoming stables for all investigated animal species.

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ISSN 2194-511X


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