Mixed Reactions of Danish Farmers to Welfare Inspections

15 June 2012, at 9:01am

DENMARK - A survey of 12 pig farmers after unannounced welfare inspections has revealed that they favoured the concept but found the assessments unfair.

Animal welfare control carried out by the authorities by using unannounced on–farm inspection has been expanding in Denmark over the past 10 years, according to Inger Anneberg and others in Livestock Science. They say that in the EU and elsewhere, third-party audit and inspection of animal welfare connected to private labels or as a requirement from the food industry is a growing field.

Their study was conducted to bring the farmers’ experience of the inspection of animal welfare legislation into the discussion about on-farm animal welfare assessment, and the perceived need for third-party audit.

Following unannounced farm inspections, 12 farmers were interviewed using a semi-qualitative interview technique.

The results show that the farmers perceived animal welfare inspections as necessary and inevitable, mainly based on a belief that not all farmers comply with the law. However, at the same time, they felt that inspections were generally unfair. In addition, they expressed the view that the inspections were carried out in very different ways between farms.

The researchers found that the farmers believe animal welfare inspection creates a feeling of certainty because it protects the sector but at the same time, it produces uncertainty.

The analysis also shows a challenge in the communication between the farmers and the inspectors about animal welfare, related to conflicts between languages from different domains. It is suggested that more room for reflection on animal welfare should be taken into account in the future.

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