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Farming Practices

 

Varieties of Harm to Animals in Industrial Farming

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This philosophical essay draws a distinction between harm to animals inflicted by abusive individuals on factory farms, and harm inherent in the industrial farming system. The author observes that animal advocates often find themselves on the defensive when debates over factory farming are reframed by skeptics as debates over the good character of farmers. He defines and provides examples of other systemic categories of harm that animal advocates can use to shift the burden of justifying factory farming to those who are skeptical about its harmfulness.


Dead or Alive? Comparing Costs and Benefits of Lethal and Non-Lethal Human–Wildlife Conflict Mitigation on Livestock Farms

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This study compared lethal versus non-lethal methods of predator control (of jackals, caracals and leopards) on 11 South African livestock farms over a 3-year period. Non-lethal methods included guardian dogs, guardian alpacas, and mesh collars to prevent fatal throat bites. Non-lethal control on average was cheaper and as effective or better at reducing losses compared to lethal controls. More than 3/4 of the participating farmers continued to use non-lethal controls only, or in combination with lethal controls, at their own cost, after the study.



Food Choices, Health and Environment: Effects of Cutting Europe's Meat and Dairy Intake

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This study calculated the impact on human health, regional agriculture, and the environment of a 50% reduction in the consumption of meat and dairy products in the EU, replaced by grains. Greenhouse gases would be reduced 25-40%, the use of imported soy meal would drop by 75%, and the EU would become a major grain exporter. Human health would benefit due to reduced cardiovascular disease, among other benefits. Meat and dairy production have high environmental footprints, and diet is an important factor in the reduction of greenhouse gases.



Social Support in Pigs with Different Coping Styles

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This Netherlands study tested whether social support can reduce stress for pigs, and further, whether pigs with more active/proactive and more passive/reactive personality styles react differently. Several physiological and behavioral stress indicators were measured before, during, and after the stress situation, with and without the presence of an adult pig with whom the test subjects had been previously housed. The more reactive pigs showed more stress reduction benefit from social support. Gender may have impacted the results, and should be considered in future studies.


Reading a Book Can Change Your Mind, But Only Some Changes Last for a Year

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The goal of this study was to measure the impact of reading an engaging book with a message upon the attitudes of college students soon after their exposure to the material, compared to a year later. Students who had read the book were significantly more aligned with the author's views on several food-related issues than students who had not, although the degree of agreement declined after a year on most issues. The possible impact of multiple, widely publicized food safety scares before and during the study period was not addressed.


Childhood Pet Ownership, Attachment to Pets, and Subsequent Meat Avoidance. The Mediating Role of Empathy Toward Animals

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This online survey studied whether close childhood relationships with a companion animal affected adult meat-eating behavior and justifications. There was a correlation between strong childhood attachment to a companion animal and empathy towards animals, but the childhood experiences in themselves did not not translate into reduced consumption of animals as food. Higher empathy did, however, change meat-eating justification strategies.



Why Do So Many Calves Die on Modern Dairy Farms and What Can We Do about Calf Welfare in the Future?

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Death of calves during or immediately following birth may be seen as a crucial indicator of poor farm management practices by consumers and animal advocates, while dairy farmers may regard it as a normal part of farming. Highest mortality is often focused in relatively few farms, but the reasons for this are unknown, as reporting is not standardized internationally, and after-death testing may not be performed. This article discusses common and suspected causes of calf mortality, and calls for better monitoring to research and address it.



After Animal Exploitation – Imagining A Post-Advocacy World

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Animal exploitation is embedded in present-day human lifestyles in too many ways to easily imagine a world without it, but advocates need a vision. How would human behaviors that threaten animals today be different in a future where animals matter, and how do we get there from here?




Contrasting Attitudes towards Animal Welfare Issues within the Food Chain

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This essay discusses the rise of factory farming and consumer concern about animal welfare in Europe. The authors point out that although a majority of EU consumers express concern about farmed animal living conditions, price is still the over-riding factor in purchase decisions. Credible documentation of superior animal living conditions is needed before consumers will pay more. However, the authors note that most of the profit margin on farmed animal products is taken by retailers and intermediaries, not farmers, so cost may not be the primary driver of pricing.


Consumer Beliefs Regarding Farmed versus Wild Fish

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This marketing study used focus groups and surveys across Spain to identify why consumers prefer wild-caught fish to farmed fish. Consumers preferred wild fish on quality measures, but did not perceive a difference between the safety of wild and farmed fish, a change from previous research. They also perceived farmed fish as cheaper and more available. Environmental or animal welfare buying considerations were not included in the study.



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