What Are the Positives? Exploring Positive Welfare Indicators in a Qualitative Interview Study with Livestock Farmers

Belinda Vigors, Alistair Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

To support the furtherance of positive animal welfare, there is a need to develop meaningful and practical positive welfare indicators for on-farm welfare assessment. Considering the perspectives of farmers is arguably critical in this regard. Doing so helps ensure positive welfare indicators reflect farmers' existing welfare norms and attitudes and, are thus, of practical relevance to them. However, a key issue for such development is the dearth of knowledge on farmers' perspectives of positive welfare. To address this, this study uses qualitative interviews to directly examine livestock farmers' perspectives of positive welfare. Findings reveal that farmers describe elements of positive welfare which are broadly in line with indicators suggested in the positive welfare literature. These elements include animal autonomy, play, positive affect, positive human-animal relationships, social interaction, and appropriate genetic selection. Additionally, this study finds that farmers construct the reduction of negative aspects of welfare as their primary management concern and mostly construct positive welfare as arising indirectly from this. Insights into the importance that farmers of different sectors and systems give to different aspects of positive welfare indicators are also explored. The implications of these findings and the similitudes between farmers' perspectives and the positive welfare literature are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • positive animal welfare
  • positive animal welfare indicators
  • farmer attitudes
  • farmer knowledge
  • qualitative research
  • free elicitation narrative interviewing


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