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Abstract

Triggered by growing societal demand, various labels and program target at improving animal welfare in intense livestock farming. Based on the assumption of a trade-off between farms’ economic performance and animal welfare, these program typically compensate farmers for potential losses from adjusted husbandry conditions such as additional space. Yet the complexity of animal welfare challenges its unique measurement and consequently the evaluation of such measures, casting doubt on the effectiveness of these program. Therefore, we first target at improving the understanding of the relation between animal health, as a core dimension of animal welfare, and farm performance from an empirical perspective, and second to evaluate the German program “Initiative Tierwohl” (ITW). We rely on bookkeeping data for 483 pig fattening farms including detailed animal health indicators collected at the abattoir. To test for the potential trade-off, we use relative farm performance measures identified from non-parametric data envelopment analysis. Our results do not support a trade-off between animal health and farm performance, but rather indicate the possibility for high productivity at comparatively high levels of animal health. Further, we find participants to perform slightly better in both dimensions, supporting the label’s claim of improved animal welfare.

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