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Natural behavior, animal rights, or making money - a study of Swedish organic farmers' view of animal issues

By V. Lund, S. Hemlin, J. White

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A questionnaire survey was performed among Swedish organic livestock farmers to determine their view of animal welfare and other ethical issues in animal production. The questionnaire was sent to 56.5% of the target group and the response rate was 75.6% (435 responses). A principal components analysis (exploratory factor analysis) was performed to get a more manageable data set. A matrix of intercorrelations between all pairs of factors was computed. The factors were then entered into a series of multiple regression models to explain five dependent variables. Respondents were well educated and had long experience of farming. 81% were full-time farmers. They generally had a very positive attitude towards organic animal husbandry. They considered allowing animals their natural behaviour a central aim, which is in accordance with organic philosophy. Farmers tended to be less approving of concepts like animal rights, dignity, and intrinsic value. When analysing correlations between the factors, two groups of farmers emerged that were only partially correlated, representing different attitudes and behavioural dispositions. These may be interpreted as two subpopulations of organic livestock farmers in Sweden: those who saw organic farming as a lifestyle ("pioneer attitude"); and entrepreneurs, who considered making money and new challenges more important. Their view of animal welfare differed. While the pioneers considered natural behaviour a key issue, this was less important to the entrepreneurs, who also had a more approving attitude towards invasive operations such as castration and were more critical of the organic standards.

Date 2004
Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 17
Issue 2
Pages 157-179
ISBN/ISSN 1187-7863
DOI 10.1023/B:JAGE.0000017393.31486.c2
Language English
Author Address National Veterinary Institute, Pb. 8156 Dep., N-0033 Oslo, Norway.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal husbandry
  4. Animal rights
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  7. Developed countries
  8. Ecological agriculture
  9. Ethics
  10. Europe
  11. Farms
  12. Livestock farming
  13. OECD countries
  14. organic culture
  15. organic farming
  16. peer-reviewed
  17. Scandinavia
  18. Social psychology and social anthropology
  19. surveys
  20. Sweden
  1. peer-reviewed