a1 Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
The opinions of seven respondent groups about the relative importance of different practices pertaining to the welfare of Australian beef cattle, sheep and goats were surveyed. Respondent groups comprised farmers, livestock transportation representatives, veterinarians, meat processors, animal welfare advocates, animal welfare scientists and government officers. The survey consisted of a web-based adaptive conjoint analysis questionnaire, which was administered to a sample population that was selected randomly for large respondent groups and comprehensively for small groups. The hierarchy of opinion concerning the importance of the different beef cattle practices was: stockmanship > ground (road and rail) transport > spaying > food supply > dehorning > stunning > shelter > identification > pretransport food and water deprivation > castration > sea transport > mustering > confinement. For sheep/goat practices the hierarchy was: parasite control > mulesing > shelter > stockmanship > tail docking > ground transport > feeding > predation > stunning > castration > pretransport food and water deprivation > sea transport > mustering. The method of performing invasive procedures was perceived as less important than the provision of pain relief. Differences in opinion were evident between respondent groups, with animal welfare advocates tending to focus on painful procedures more than those with direct involvement in the industry.
(Received October 05 2008)
(Accepted March 13 2009)