Understanding concerns about the welfare of farm animals is important for the development of socially sustainable production practices. This study used an online survey to test how views on group versus stall housing for pregnant sows varied when Canadian and US participants were provided information about these systems, including access to scientific papers, YouTube videos, Google images, and a frequently-asked-questions page (S1 Appendix). Initial responses and changes in responses after accessing the information were analyzed from Likert scores of 242 participants and from their written comments. Participants were less willing to accept the use of gestation stalls after viewing information on sow housing. For example, initially 30.4% of respondents indicated that they supported the use of gestation stalls; this declined to 17.8%after participants were provided additional information. Qualitative analysis of comments showed that supporters of gestation stalls expressed concern about the spread of disease and aggression between animals in less confined systems, whereas supporters of group housing placed more emphasis on the sow’s ability to interact socially and perform natural behaviors. These results point to public opposition to the use of gestation stalls, and indicate that the more that the public learns about gestation stalls the less willing they will be to accept their use.
Ryan EB, Fraser D, Weary DM (2015) Public Attitudes to Housing Systems for Pregnant Pigs. PLoS ONE 10(11): e0141878. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0141878