Similarities and Differences of Animal Welfare Perceptions between U.S. Cow-Calf Producers and the Public

The U.S. livestock industry is increasingly faced with pressure to adjust practices in response to societal concerns. A specific area of growing concern surrounds how production practices impact the welfare of farm animals. The objective of this analysis is to use best-worst scaling (maximum difference) to determine which practices the U.S. public and cow-calf producers view as the most effective and most practical practices to improve the welfare of beef cattle in the U.S. In meeting this objective, we determine similarities and differences in the public and producer views. Random parameters logit and latent class models are used to better understand heterogeneity within and across both the public and producers. Results indicate that both the U.S. public and cow-calf producers viewed providing access to fresh, clean feed and water appropriate for the animal’s physiological state, and providing adequate comfort through the use of shade, windbreaks, and ventilation assuring clean, dry, sanitary environmental conditions for cattle as both the most effective and most practical practices to improve the welfare of beef cattle. The practices which were viewed as the least effective and least practical were to castrate male calves either within the first three months of age or with pain control, and dehorn/disbud calves either before horn tissue adheres to the skull or with pain control. Implications for future research, possible verification programs, and related debates regarding beef cattle welfare are provided.

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JEL Codes:
Q00; Q11; Q13; Q16; Q19

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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