Measuring public support for animal welfare legislation: A case study of cage egg production
Battery cages are an industrial agricultural confinement system used primary for egg-laying hens. There have been a lot of issues among advocates of animal welfare/animal rights and industrial egg producers as the hens are confined into cramp cages with no space to move and run around which is considered as animal cruelty to most people. (Wikipedia 2010)
Looking at the photo above (the light you see is from the camera, note the darkness at the far right of the photo), you can see that the hens are living in horrid conditions, imagine being confined to a small cage with no space to turn around and having to defecate and eat at the same area. The hens in battery cages do not see sunlight to prevent them from pecking and some animal advocates feel that it is a concern, as hens prefer to eat in brightly lit environments.
Legislation has been the first tool of the governments in protecting the welfare of animals. It is necessary because animal welfare is considered as a free and public good, which would lead the animals to be over-exploited by others if there were no rules to protect them.
In the reading, Bennett investigates the application of a survey technique, contingent valuation, to estimate people’s willingness to pay to support animal welfare legislation. (Bennett R. 1998)
2000 citizens in Great Britain were randomly picked for the survey. Questionnaires were mailed to households and those who completed the questionnaire were able to partake in a free prize draw in order to encourage people to complete the questionnaires.
Only 1% of the respondents said that they were not concerned that farm animals may suffer or be mistreated in the process of producing food and other agricultural products which means that a large number of respondents were somewhat concerned about animal welfare.
More than 50% of the respondents were concerned with the housing/living conditions of animals, feed and medicines given to the animals and the treatment of the animals during transport, at markets and at slaughter.
Thankfully, with the introduction of the European Union Council Directive 1999/74/EC, conventional battery cages would be banned in the EU from January 2012 onwards, which means that the number of eggs from battery cages in the EU states is rapidly decreasing. (Wikipedia 1999)
Switzerland and Germany have banned conventional battery cages as well and other countries like United States and Australia have also set higher standards with regards to conventional battery cages as well.
As people are more concerned about animal welfare, conventional battery cages would be ‘a thing of the past’ soon.
Questions I’d like to pose to the readers:
1)How do you guys feel about conventional battery cages?
2)Would you buy animal products if you know that the animals suffered in the process?
Bennett, R. (1998) Measuring Public Support for Animal Welfare Legislation: A Case Study of Cage Egg Production. Animal Welfare, 7 (1), p.1-10.
Wikipedia.org (2010) Battery cage – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battery_cage [Accessed: 25 Oct 2012].
Wikipedia.org (1999) European Union Council Directive 1999/74/EC – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_Council_Directive_1999/74/EC [Accessed: 25 Oct 2012].