Researchers from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) are launching a survey for farmers to get to the heart of the debate about what makes farm animals happy.
Generally, it is believed that livestock farmers emphasise the importance of keeping their animals healthy, while members of the public are more likely to want farm animals to be able to exhibit their natural behaviours.
These perceived differences pose considerable complexities for policy and the industry, but now researchers from SRUC’s Animal Behaviour and Welfare team are investigating whether opinion on what is important for farm animal welfare is that divided and clear-cut.
Having completed a survey with 800 members of the public, they are looking for farmers’ views on how important health and natural behaviours are for the well-being of farm animals, based on their experiences.
To match the public survey, they are looking for 800 people from the livestock sector to complete the survey, with the findings due to be released by the end of the year.
Dr Belinda Vigors, a social scientist at SRUC, said: ‘We hope the findings will help us gain a better understanding of the value placed on different aspects of farm animal welfare and how potential trade-offs between animal health and natural behaviours are viewed by key stakeholders.
‘Interest in this survey has already been expressed by those working in policy, so contributions from the livestock sector would be really valuable at this stage.’
The survey, which is funded by the Scottish Government’s Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services (RESAS), is open to all livestock farmers across the UK and the Republic of Ireland, from small-holders to the largest of farms.
Visit www.research.net/r/happyandhealthy to complete the survey.