PoultryWorld - Opening farms to the public creates less scepticism
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Opening farms to the public creates less scepticism

In many developed countries the poultry industry is confronted with a strong public opposition regarding intensive poultry production. The growing scepticism of the public towards intensive poultry production, leading to a negative image of the industry, is supported by media reports, activities of animal welfare groups and political parties.

The problem, to some extent, is the result of changes in housing systems from the traditional free-range systems in the past to the use of confined buildings nowadays, the latter making it impossible for the public to see how eggs and poultry meat are produced. Also, recently, ethical concerns including animal welfare and aspects of sustainability of poultry production, have become more important. According to a survey of the EU, 94% of Europeans stated that it is important to protect the welfare of farmed animals and 66% would like to know more about the conditions under which farmed animals are kept in their country.

In Belgium a few years ago, farmer and consumer perceptions of animal welfare were studied. For farmers – stocking density, slaughter without stress and transportation of animals were important. Consumers evaluated the same criteria as much more problematic and considered outdoor access as more important than farmers, for whom outdoor access implied hygienic problems. The gap between the image of the industry and the reality of modern, market-oriented poultry production has widened continuously, due to the lack of knowledge transfer from the industry to the consumers about production conditions. In 2012, a transparency project started in Lower Saxony, Germany. By opening poultry houses to the public, a realistic impression of modern, market-oriented poultry production on family farms was provided. From 2012 until 2015, 9,000 visitors made use of the possibility to visit layer, broiler and turkey farms (in total 36 farms). The visitors were interviewed prior to the farm visit and after they had left the poultry houses. 2,922 questionnaires of persons older than 18 years and without a former knowledge about intensive poultry production were evaluated. The results showed that farm openings changed the attitude of the visitors considerably and that they were less sceptical towards intensive poultry husbandry than prior to their visit.

Photo

  • The use of confined buildings nowadays is making it impossible for the public to see how eggs and poultry meat are produced. New initiatives giving consumers access to houses help in educating them. Photo: Fred Steenman

    The use of confined buildings nowadays is making it impossible for the public to see how eggs and poultry meat are produced. New initiatives giving consumers access to houses help in educating them. Photo: Fred Steenman

D. Heijne and H-W. Windhorst, World’s Poultry Science Journal

6 comments

  • KD Davis

    Industry counts on the public not understanding what they are looking at when they see a vast sea of birds in a showplace housing operation. Animal advocates will continue uncovering the ugly, filthy, merciless and inhumane reality of the poultry and egg industry and the whole agribusiness global nightmare.

    Compassion means vegan.

    Karen Davis, President, United Poultry Concerns. http://www.upc-online.org

  • Don Kennedy

    Did you check if your lettuce and potatoes were looked after humanly there are a lot of bigger fish to fry. Here in Australia it is first priority for welfare. RSPCA do checks from the layers to the hatchery, grow out sheds and processing plants and if you do not comply you loose your license to produce.

  • Don Kennedy

    It is a great opportunity for the public to see behind closed doors in a quarantined area. Your that concerned and cannot respond, go Vegan the lifestyle has knocked out some brain cells.

  • Fabio Nunes

    Plesant reading. First for getting to know the great strategy from this (global) amazing industry that generates milions and millions of jobs, collects zillions in taxes while working hard and honestly to feeding billions of individuals, families and kids with a nourishing, healthy and affordable protein 24/7 around the world! Second, and at the same time, for some funny posts!

  • Joaquín Moreno

    Well said Fabio! Couldn't agree more.

  • Fabio Nunes

    Thanks, Joaquin, for sharing the same perspective!

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