Measuring public support for animal welfare legialation: A case study of cage egg production.

This reading is about seeking public support for particular animal welfare jurisdictive appeal. A survey was carried out in Great Britain. The objective was to find out the willingness of its people to support the act of wiping out the use of cages in egg production. The conclusion was that the procedures must be carried out carefully, and that the results can be a good reflection of people’s concerns about the welfare of animals and their choices for public policies on the welfare of animals.

Legislation has been one of the more important tools that governments use to safeguard the welfare of animals. It is vital as the welfare of animals is “a free and public good”. If uncared for, they will be abused. However the difficulty stems from making sure that:

  1. The law will truly protect the welfare of animals
  2. It is supported by the public in general
  3. It is politically achievable
  4. It does not negatively impact the country’s economy

The survey seeks to find out the worries of the general public about the welfare of farm animals, the support from the public and their willingness to pay for policies to be set to wipe out the use of cages in egg production, the reasoning behind their willingness to pay, as well as personal information about the respondents, for example, their household income, age, gender, occupation, etc.

Results have shown that close to half of the respondents cared very much about how the animals were treated in the process of food production and agricultural production. More than half stopped buying specific farm animal products due to the concerns they have about animal welfare. Respondents, in general, cared about the living conditions about the animals, the food and medicines fed to them, as well as how the animals were treated during transport, markets and slaughter.

Most of the respondents are in support of the legislation to wipe out the use of cages in egg production. “Debriefing questions” are vital in making sure that the responses are consistent and that the respondents have understood the questions correctly. Findings from this have shown that some respondents relate their willingness to pay to helping animal welfare in general rather than just for hen welfare. Also, some relate it to an act of giving – meaning they value the act more than the topic at hand. This study shows that the general public in Great Britain are concerned about animal welfare in general, and more specifically, are in support of banning the use of egg cages in egg production.

From this reading, one of the learning points is that as much as the survey questions are important, it is necessary to find out the rationale behind the answers which could prove to have an impact on the survey results. I feel that “debriefing questions” are important to find out if the respondents understood the survey questions correctly and this in turn can affect the accuracy of the survey results. Apart from “debriefing questions”, what are some other methods to contribute to the accuracy of the survey data?


Bennett, R. (1998). Measuring public support for animal welfare legialation: A case study of cage egg production. Animal Welfare, 7, 1-10



1 comment so far

  1. glassleaves on

    Public perception can be altered by how something is worded. Animal industries have replaced harsh terminologies such as “debeaking” with less emotive terms like “beak-trimming” (Swanson & Mench, 2000). Therefore I think that it is important to use actual descriptions when aiming for accuracy of survey data.

    Sawnson, J.C and J.A. Mench (2000) Animal Wefare: Consumer Viewpoints. Available at: (last accessed 15th November 2012).


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