A comprehensive national survey shows many Australians have not visited farms, have a shallow knowledge of modern animal production and are vague about the key animal welfare considerations.
Consumers generally do care about animal welfare safeguards, yet they don’t actually spend more at the supermarket to ensure these safeguards.
CQUniversity researcher Dr Tania Signal says sensationalist reporting of chronic animal welfare issues via TV and the internet can emotionally engage the public but often the responses are narrow or superficial.
Instead, she advocates thorough and sustained education about real-world farming practices and the range of desirable animal ‘freedoms’ to really make a long-term difference.
“Animal welfare advocates talk about freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition, from discomfort, from pain, injury and disease, and from fear and distress, along with the freedom to express normal behaviour,” Dr Signal says.
“Yet our survey shows a disconnect as most consumers have only vague notions of what animal welfare actually involves. We need to tease out ‘real’ knowledge from ‘sentimental’ knowledge’.