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Asian Livestock Industry Leaders’ Perceptions of the Importance of, and Solutions for, Animal Welfare Issues

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The welfare of farm animals has been the focus of increasing international interest, however, the movement has had little engagement with livestock leaders who are, arguably, the stakeholders in the position most able to make decisions that impact on animal welfare at critical times. Previous studies have drawn attention to the need to engage in constructive collaborations with the livestock industry for the betterment of animal welfare, and to uncover mutual benefits for both stakeholders and proponents of animal welfare with which collaborations can be motivated. This study aimed to continue this need to understand leaders in livestock management, by consulting their opinions as to what constitutes the most critical animal welfare issues during farming and slaughter, and what they see as some of the solutions to begin addressing livestock welfare issues in their country. Seventeen focus group sessions were held with 139 leaders in livestock industries in six diverse countries in Asia, including China, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Bangladesh. Leaders included government representatives, key academics in agriculture, and business managers and leaders within the domestic animal agriculture industries, as relevant to each country. After conducting thematic analysis and applying basic statistical measures, the findings suggest that solutions within the themes of education, training, and awareness are most valued. However, how each of these could be best addressed varied by country. The need for local research and local solutions also contributed to the most frequent opportunities, as did the requirement for prescriptive and consistent standards and expectations. A ranking of animal welfare issues is presented, as is a selection of suggested animal welfare initiatives resulting from the findings of this study.
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animals
Article
Asian Livestock Industry Leaders’ Perceptions of the
Importance of, and Solutions for, Animal
Welfare Issues
Michelle Sinclair * and Clive J.C. Phillips
Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, School of Veterinary Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane,
QLD 4343, Australia; c.phillips@uq.edu.au
*Correspondence: m.sinclair6@uq.edu.au
Received: 6 April 2019; Accepted: 31 May 2019; Published: 5 June 2019
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Simple Summary:
Livestock industry leaders are in a unique position to understand the challenges
to the welfare of farm animals and to enact solutions that improve the lives of the animals they
work with. Despite this, these important stakeholders are seldom consulted in this regard and
their attitudes and opinions on animal welfare issues are largely unknown. This is particularly the
case when considering livestock stakeholders in Asia and the previous lack of collaboration with
international animal welfare advocates. To address this, focus group consultation sessions were
organised across six countries; China, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Bangladesh, aiming
to better understand the positions of livestock industry leaders, and to consult them on potential
initiatives to improve livestock welfare in their country. This study presents a ranking of animal
welfare issues by importance as considered by livestock leaders, solutions and opportunities identified
by the leaders, and suggests initiatives proposed in each country. This study aims to better inform
international animal welfare strategies in order to facilitate the development of the most eective
programs and initiatives.
Abstract:
The welfare of farm animals has been the focus of increasing international interest, however,
the movement has had little engagement with livestock leaders who are, arguably, the stakeholders
in the position most able to make decisions that impact on animal welfare at critical times. Previous
studies have drawn attention to the need to engage in constructive collaborations with the livestock
industry for the betterment of animal welfare, and to uncover mutual benefits for both stakeholders
and proponents of animal welfare with which collaborations can be motivated. This study aimed to
continue this need to understand leaders in livestock management, by consulting their opinions as to
what constitutes the most critical animal welfare issues during farming and slaughter, and what they
see as some of the solutions to begin addressing livestock welfare issues in their country. Seventeen
focus group sessions were held with 139 leaders in livestock industries in six diverse countries
in Asia, including China, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Bangladesh. Leaders included
government representatives, key academics in agriculture, and business managers and leaders within
the domestic animal agriculture industries, as relevant to each country. After conducting thematic
analysis and applying basic statistical measures, the findings suggest that solutions within the themes
of education, training, and awareness are most valued. However, how each of these could be best
addressed varied by country. The need for local research and local solutions also contributed to the
most frequent opportunities, as did the requirement for prescriptive and consistent standards and
expectations. A ranking of animal welfare issues is presented, as is a selection of suggested animal
welfare initiatives resulting from the findings of this study.
Keywords: animal welfare; perceptions; China; attitudes; cultural anthrozoology
Animals 2019,9, 319; doi:10.3390/ani9060319 www.mdpi.com/journal/animals
Animals 2019,9, 319 2 of 26
1. Introduction
Animal welfare, particularly when considering livestock, is a social issue that involves more
stakeholders than most: consumers, animal advocates, governments, the public, veterinarians, livestock
industry and the animals themselves. Well understood in the realms of commercial marketing, political
science, education, war, and corporate psychology, understanding the target audience, or relevant
stakeholder, is vital to the success of campaigns [
1
4
] and a universal approach to stakeholders is
unlikely to generate engagement. Although the principle of understanding audiences and stakeholders
has not been widely applied to social enterprise, or more specifically to the purpose of improving
animal welfare, it is directly applicable and is likely to result in the development of improved strategy
and initiatives [
5
]. Engaging stakeholders in a relationship with a product, philosophy, or behaviour
requires an understanding of who influences decisions to engage with a product, their needs and
problems, what they are trying to achieve, and how they can be successful [
6
]. Identifying the right
stakeholders to understand and engage with is, therefore, a fundamental component of this process.
In the past, animal welfare science, along with the broader farm animal welfare movement, has been
focussed almost entirely on the animals themselves, which is reasonable considering they are the main
subject, and the stakeholders with the most to lose or gain. However, farm animals, and particularly
those in intensive production systems, are often not in a position to improve their welfare, and are
only rarely able to make choices that improve their quality of life. When considering the stakeholders
with the greatest amount of choice over the details that have the greatest impact on the animals’
lives, and their welfare status, it is clear who the key actors in the livestock industry are: farmers,
transporters, slaughtermen, and veterinarians. Livestock industry stakeholders could be considered
the most important players in farm animal welfare for more reasons than being in an empowered
position to directly implement animal welfare improvement. Apart from the animals themselves, no
other stakeholder has as much to lose or gain from animal welfare initiatives, with stakeholders in
many developing countries relying on livestock and subsistence farming for survival. In addition, no
other stakeholder understands the intimate details of the livestock production business as well as they
do, including the challenges and solutions to improving animal welfare. Contrary to the potential of
this stakeholder group, livestock stakeholders in developing countries have seldom been the focus
of animal welfare research or strategy. Some research has been undertaken on the understanding of
attitudes and behaviour of livestock industry stakeholders in developed countries towards animal
welfare, e.g., [
6
], but in the developing economies of Asia there are many dierent traditions and
cultural influences, as well as market forces, which suggest that dierent attitudes and behaviour
may prevail.
Groundwork research has been conducted to begin understanding the attitudes of livestock
stakeholders [
7
9
], but only a few studies have been recently conducted with Asian stakeholders [
10
13
]
despite the fact that the majority of livestock are produced there. The importance to finding mutual
benefits (or ‘mutual gains’) with stakeholders has been presented in an international development
context [
14
,
15
] and in the context of animal welfare [
16
]. Further to that, the nature of the perceived
benefits for livestock holders, if they improve the welfare of the livestock, has also recently been
explored [
17
]. Understanding livestock stakeholders’ perceptions of dierent animal welfare issues,
and stakeholder-initiated solutions or opportunities to improve animal welfare, has not yet been
researched, particularly not in the context of Asian countries.
This study aims to draw on the skills and experience of livestock leaders across six culturally
diverse Asian nations with economically important livestock industries to begin addressing this gap.
Incorporating stakeholder-identified opportunities to improve farm animal welfare into international
initiatives is more likely to be supported by these stakeholders. Furthermore, this study aims to
provide an improved understanding of the stakeholders tasked with making the most critical choices
on behalf of the animals and their welfare.
Animals 2019,9, 319 3 of 26
2. Materials and Methods
The study was granted human ethics approval by the University of Queensland Ethics Committee,
approval number: 2017000628. Three focus group sessions were held in each of five countries: India,
Vietnam, Thailand, China, and Bangladesh, and two were held in Malaysia because of the smaller
population, relatively. There were a total of 17 focus groups and 139 livestock leaders (Table 1).
Locations were dispersed in each country (i.e., south, north, central, capital, and regional), in an eort
to capture potentially varied sentiments between dierent geographic regions. Participants (henceforth
referred to as stakeholders) were invited through country-based collaborators utilising the following
selection criteria: they had to be leaders in the agricultural sector, senior within a private organisation
or agriculture government department (with a maximum of five government vets), and considered to
have the ability to implement change in private businesses. The majority of stakeholders were private
industry leaders, such as pig or poultry slaughterhouse or production managers or owners (Table 2).
In some focus groups, certain participants were known to each other as professional colleagues.
Table 1. Location of focus groups and abbreviation codes used in quote citations.
Country City/Town Abbreviation Code Number of Participants
Vietnam
Hanoi HN 7
Ban Me Thout BT 5
Ho Chi Minh City HCM 8
Malaysia Negeri Sembilan NS 6
Kuala Lumpur Selangor KL 13
Thailand
Bangkok BK 10
Khon Kaen KK 3
Chiang Mai CM 6
China
Guangzhou GZ 7
Zhengzhou ZZ 7
Beijing BJ 9
India
Banglaore BA 6
Kolkata KO 5
Trivandrum TR 4
Bangladesh
Dhaka DH 13
Mymensingh MM 17
Savar SA 13
Table 2. Breakdown of stakeholder participant roles within the livestock industry, by country.
Country Stakeholder Role
Private Industry
Leaders
Private Industry
Veterinarians
Government
Representatives
Agricultural
Academics
China 15 0 1 9
Vietnam 4 3 13 1
Thailand 11 4 2 2
Malaysia 9551
India 3516
Bangladesh 4 2 17 21
Although plans were made for five to seven stakeholders in each session, the actual number of
stakeholders present on the day varied from three to 14, due to cancellations at the lower extreme and
heightened interest at the other. Sessions were scheduled for 3.5 h, but those with more stakeholders
often ran past in order to allow all stakeholders adequate opportunity to contribute.
Animals 2019,9, 319 4 of 26
The lead researcher (MS), with the assistance of a research assistant, facilitated all groups in a
semi structured format with consistent base questions (see Appendix A), followed by prompting
stakeholders for further discussion around animal welfare issues relevant to them, which suggested
strategies, solutions and opportunities to improve animal welfare in their country. In addition to this
discussion, two activities were conducted with stakeholders that are presented here: a group ranking
of what stakeholders saw to be the most important livestock welfare issues, and an individual rating
of the perceived willingness to improve stock handling skills to be calmer and gentler with livestock
animals, in the context of front line animal stawithin the livestock industries. Within the group
activity, 12 cards were presented with major welfare concerns in livestock production, written in both
English and the local language, translated by the local academic collaborator (simplified Chinese in
China, Vietnamese in Vietnam, Thai in Thailand, Bangladeshi in Bangladesh, Hindi in India, and Bahas
in Malaysia). To avoid presenting misleading data, linguistics and tone are not reported, as most data
was translated, abbreviated, and summarised through verbal translators during the sessions, from six
dierent languages to English.
Stakeholders were asked to reach a consensus as a team and place the cards in order of importance,
from the most concerning animal welfare issue, to the least. This was first completed in the context
of animal farming, and second in the context of animal slaughter. Stakeholders were encouraged to
discuss their thoughts, and present their rank order back to the facilitator and research assistant when
they had agreed on an order. The research assistant advised the groups by answering questions about
the meanings of cards if they were not readily understood. In each session, the stakeholders were
advised to consider the issues not in relation to the current issues on their respective farms, rather, that
in the case that all of the issues were present, which issues were the most important, ranked from most
to least important.
The task took between 10–30 min in each session, with some groups choosing not to distinguish
between farming and slaughter, and to present one list. The sessions ended with a summary of the
major points presented by the lead researcher (MS), in order to achieve agreement with all stakeholders.
Stakeholders were not paid for their participation, were advised that the session was voluntary, and
that all data would be de-identified.
The remainder of the session content focussed on the benefits to improving welfare, willingness to
embrace pre-slaughter stunning, and, pursuant to our earlier surveys, achieving a better understanding
of the motivators to seek to improve animal welfare [1013,16,17].
Dialogue was voice recorded during the sessions and additional field notes were taken by
the research assistant. Both datasets were used to create abridged transcripts of each session.
As participation was facilitated by verbal translation during the sessions in most instances (except for
some Malaysian, Thai, Indian, and Bangladeshi participants who spoke English), verbatim transcripts
were not possible. However, post hoc transcripts were uploaded into NVivo 11.4.3 (QSR International,
Melbourne, Australia) software for Mac for analysis (henceforth referred to as NVivo). The same lead
researcher that conducted the focus groups also coded all themes (recurring concepts or ideas [
18
])
and conducted the analysis. On completion of each session participants received a small gift from
Australia (such as pins, magnets, and small koalas) as a token of appreciation for participating in
Australian research.
Analysis
For the data collected in the animal welfare issues group activity, the ranking of issues per
location is presented as it was collected, and the percentage of total solutions that each solution
comprised was calculated and is presented graphically. Thematic analysis was utilised to obtain a
deeper understanding of the solutions and specific opportunities, and to investigate the most important
solutions to stakeholders. Data contained in the session summary and relating to solutions and
opportunities was compiled into 19 solution themes and presented as they appeared in each location.
The percentage of total solutions was calculated for each individual solution. The most significant
Animals 2019,9, 319 5 of 26
solution theme was then further analysed for specific sub-themes and what proportion of this solution
theme each constituted. Once all data relating to solutions or opportunities to improve animal welfare
had been coded as a theme, the data was manually inspected for quotes that best illustrated this data.
At the completion of analysis and coding of themes and sub-themes, no new themes emerged from the
data, suggesting data saturation.
Due to possible translation nuances, rather than focussing on word usage, more attention was
paid to careful analysis of the key themes, the frequency of their appearance across countries, and the
general context and interpretation of their meanings. However, word frequency functions in NVivo
were still utilised in the identification of sub-themes and to ensure data saturation.
For the data collected in relation to rating the willingness of stakeholders to engage in calm
and gentle animal handling, responses were counted for each location, and presented as a mean and
median. Data relating to these scores were coded accordingly and are summarised in the results.
3. Results
3.1. Animal Welfare Issues
In a farming context, most stakeholders placed the lack of food and water at the top of the list as
the most serious animal welfare issues (Table 3; Figure 1). Lack of pre-slaughter stunning, coupled
with experiencing fear and distress and rough handling, were rated as most important across most
countries when considering a slaughter context, except in Bangladesh where the lack of pre-slaughter
stunning was rated amongst the lowest animal welfare concerns during slaughter, and one session in
Malaysia in which it was placed in the middle of the list.
In those sessions in which the stakeholders chose to craft one list to cover both farming and
slaughter contexts, consideration was frequently given to the lack of pre-slaughter stunning in Vietnam
and India, and to thermal discomfort in Thailand. Boredom consistently ranked the lowest of animal
welfare considerations in all sessions, both in the farming and slaughter context, except in one session
in China in which rough handling and lack of shelter were rated as being of lower in importance in a
slaughter context, and in one session in Malaysia in which, again, rough handling rated lower than
boredom in a farming context. In the slaughter context boredom was rated at a low level, however, it
was rated of greater importance than food and treatment for disease in a couple of sessions, presumably
due to the withholding of these provisions prior to slaughter. Lack of stunning at slaughter was mostly
rated the least important consideration in Bangladesh, interchangeably with boredom.
Most other animal welfare issues were rated with varied importance, with no significant consistency
by country, except that space to express normal behaviour, thermal discomfort, and rough handling
considerations rated consistently high in most countries when considering farming, after food and
water, with the exception of Bangladesh, which had less consistency in the rating of these issues.
3.2. Stakeholder Initiated Solutions or Approaches
The primary themes underpinning the solutions presented by stakeholders are summarised in
Table 4and Figure 2. The most frequent were education of children, industry training, awareness
of the general public, the need for prescriptive standards, and the need for local research and local
solutions. Although some of the themes were consistent across the countries, the way in which
each was suggested to be conducted and their content varied considerably. For this reason, and for
practicability of application, the qualitative detail of these themes are considered and discussed by
country, illustrated with direct quotes from the stakeholders. The subthemes for education and training
were, from most to least important, industry training, building public awareness, childhood education,
and leveraging social and mass media (Figure 3).
Animals 2019,9, 319 6 of 26
Table 3. Group ranking of animal welfare issues, by country.
Country Region Ranking
Farming Context Slaughter Context
China Beijing
(1) Water
(2) Food
(3) Temperature
(4) Space
(5) Shelter
(6) Disease
(7) Wrong food
(8) Rest
(9) Fear
(10) Boredom
(11) Handling
(1) Handling
(2) No stunning
(3) Fear
(4) Temperature
(5) Water
(6) Wrong food
(7) Food
(8) Space
(9) Rest
(10) Boredom
(11) Disease
(12) Shelter
Guangzhou
(1) Water
(2) Food
(3) Shelter
(4) Temperature
(5) Handling
(6) Disease
(7) Space
(8) Fear
(9) Wrong food
(10) Rest
(11) Boredom
(1) Water
(2) Food
(3) No stunning
(4) Shelter
(5) Temperature
(6) Handling
(7) Disease
(8) Space
(9) Fear
(10) Wrong food
(11) Rest
(12) Boredom
Zhengzhou
(1) Food
(2) Water
(3) Handling
(4) Space
(5) Temperature
(6) Wrong feed
(7) Shelter
(8) Fear
(9) Disease
(10) Rest
(11) Boredom
(1) No stunning
(2) Fear
(3) Handling
(4) Temperature
(5) Food
(6) Water
(7) Space
(8) Wrong food
(9) Shelter
(10) Rest
(11) Disease
(12) Boredom
Vietnam Hanoi *
(1a) Food (1b) Water (1c) Wrong food
(2a) Fear (2b) No stunning
(3a) Rest (3b) Shelter (3c) Temperature
(4) Space
(5) Handling
(6) Disease
(7) Boredom
Ho Chi Minh *
(1) No stunning
(2) Space
(3) Disease
(4) Handling
(5) Temperature
(6) Fear
(7) Shelter
(8) Water
(9) Food
(10) Rest
(11) Wrong food
(12) Boredom
Animals 2019,9, 319 7 of 26
Table 3. Cont.
Country Region Ranking
Farming Context Slaughter Context
Ban Me Thout *
(1) No stunning
(2) Fear
(3) Handling
(4) Space
(5) Temperature
(6) Shelter
(7) Rest
(8) Water
(9) Wrong food
(10) Food
(11) Disease
(12) Boredom
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur
(1) Space
(2) Temperature
(3a) Handling
(3b) Fear
(4a) Water
(4b) Food
(5) Disease
(6) Rest
(7) No stunning
(8) Boredom
(1) Fear
(2) No stunning
(3) Temperature
(4) Handling
(5) Rest
(6) Water
(7) Space
Negeri Sembilan
(1) Water (1) Fear
(2) Food (2) Rest
(3) Shelter (3) Water
(4) Temperature (4) Temperature
(5) Rest (5) Shelter
(6) Wrong food (6) Handling
(7) Fear (7) Space
(8) Space (8) No stunning
(9) Disease (9) Disease
(10) Boredom (10) Boredom
(11) Handling (11) Wrong feed
(12) No stunning (12) Food
Thailand Bangkok *
(1) Temperature
(2) Water
(3) Disease
(4) Fear
(5) Handling
(6) Space
(7) Food
(8) No stunning
(9) Rest
(10) Shelter
(11) Wrong food
(12) Boredom
Khon Kaen
(1) Water (1) Handling
(2) Food (2) Space
(3) Wrong food (3) No stunning
(4) Space (4) Rest
(5) Disease (5) Shelter
(6) Handling (6) Temperature
(7) Shelter (7) Fear
(8) Temperature (8) Boredom
(9) Fear (9) Water
(10) No stunning (10) Food
(11) Rest (11) Wrong food
(12) Boredom (12) Disease
Animals 2019,9, 319 8 of 26
Table 3. Cont.
Country Region Ranking
Farming Context Slaughter Context
Chiang Mai
(1) Water (1) No stunning
(2) Food (2) Handling
(3) Wrong food (3) Water
(4) Fear (4) Fear
(5) Space (5) Space
(6) Disease (6) Rest
(7) Handling (7) Shelter
(8) Boredom (8) Temperature
(9) Rest (9) Disease
(10) Temperature (10) Boredom
(11) Shelter (11) Food
(12) No stunning (12) Wrong food
India Kolkata *
(1) Disease
(2) Food
(3) Wrong food
(4) Water
(5) Space
(6) Temperature
(7) Rest
(8) Shelter
(9) Handling
(10) No stunning
(11) Fear
(12) Boredom
Bangalore *
(1) No stunning
(2) Handling
(3) Fear
(4) Food
(5) Wrong food
(6) Shelter
(7) Shelter
(8) Disease
(9) Rest
(10) Space
(11) Temperature
(12) Boredom
Trivandrum *
(1) Food
(2) Water
(3) Wrong food
(4) Shelter
(5) Space
(6) Temperature
(7) No stunning
(8) Disease
(9) Fear
(10) Rest
(11) Handling
(12) Boredom
Animals 2019,9, 319 9 of 26
Table 3. Cont.
Country Region Ranking
Farming Context Slaughter Context
Bangladesh Dhaka
(1) Space
(2) Rest
(3) Wrong food
(4) Fear
(5) Handling
(6) Transportation discomfort
(added by participants)
(7) Temperature
(8) Boredom
(9) Shelter
(10) Disease
(11) Water quality (added by
participants)
(12) Food
(13) Water
(14) No stunning
(1) Transportation discomfort
(added by participants)
(2) Fear
(3) Handling
(4) Slaughtering pregnant
animals unknowingly (added
by participants)
(5) Disease
(6) Rest
(7) No stunning
Mymensingh
(1) Wrong food (1) Handling
(2) Space (2) Shelter
(3) Food (3) Rest
(4) Shelter (4) Water
(5) Disease (5) Temperature
(6) Handling (6) Food
(7) Temperature (7) Wrong food
(8) Rest (8) Disease
(9) Fear (9) Fear
(10) Water (10) Space
(11) No stunning (11) No stunning
(12) Boredom (12) Boredom
Savar
(1) Food (1) Poor vehicle design (added
by participants)
(2) Wrong food (2) Rest
(3) Disease (3) Temperature
(4) Temperature (4) Space
(5) Space (5) Handling
(6) Poor vehicle design (added
by participants) (6) Shelter
(7) Handling (7) Water
(8) Rest (8) Fear
(9) Shelter (9) Disease
(10) Fear (10) Food
(11) Water (11) Boredom
(12) Boredom (12) No stunning
* Farming and slaughter combined; Animal Welfare Issues as Stated on Activity Cards in Full (Translated):
Disease—Lack of treatment of disease and injury; Food—Not enough food; Wrong food—Inappropriate
feed; Water—Not enough water; Space—Confinement in space too small to express normal behaviour;
Temperature—Thermal discomfort: too hot or cold; Rest—Lack of comfortable rest; Shelter—Lack of shelter;
Handling—Rough stock handling; No stunning—Lack of stunning during slaughter; Fear—Experiencing fear and
distress; Boredom—Boredom.
Animals 2019,9, 319 10 of 26
Animals 2019, 9, 319 9 of 26
(2) Wrong food
(3) Disease
(4) Temperature
(5) Space
(6) Poor vehicle design (added by
participants)
(7) Handling
(8) Rest
(9) Shelter
(10) Fear
(11) Water
(12) Boredom
(2) Rest
(3) Temperature
(4) Space
(5) Handling
(6) Shelter
(7) Water
(8) Fear
(9) Disease
(10) Food
(11) Boredom
(12) No stunning
* Farming and slaughter combined; Animal Welfare Issues as Stated on Activity Cards in Full
(Translated): Disease—Lack of treatment of disease and injury; Food—Not enough food; Wrong
food—Inappropriate feed; Water—Not enough water; Space—Confinement in space too small to
express normal behaviour; Temperature—Thermal discomfort: too hot or cold; Rest—Lack of
comfortable rest; Shelter—Lack of shelter; Handling—Rough stock handling; No stunning—Lack of
stunning during slaughter; Fear—Experiencing fear and distress; Boredom—Boredom.
Figure 1. Percentage of total solutions by the focus groups citing each animal welfare issue in farming
and slaughter rated in the top three ‘most important’.
Note: The 12th issue, ‘boredom’, did not appear amongst the top rated animal welfare concerns in any of the
sessions, therefore, it does not appear here.
16%
16%
13%
12%
11%
11%
7%
5% 5% 4%
Lack of water
Lack of food
Rough handling
No pre-slaughter stunning
Wrong food
Experiencing fear and distress
Thermal discomfort
Lack of treatment of disease
and injury
Lack of comfortable rest
Figure 1.
Percentage of total solutions by the focus groups citing each animal welfare issue in farming
and slaughter rated in the top three ‘most important’. Note: The 12th issue, ‘boredom’, did not appear
amongst the top rated animal welfare concerns in any of the sessions, therefore, it does not appear here.
Animals 2019, 9, 319 10 of 26
Figure 2. The top 12 stakeholder suggested solutions and opportunities to improving animal welfare
(% frequency with which each of the top 12 solutions was represented, across all countries).
Figure 3. Visual representation of the % frequency of subsets within the ‘Education and Training’
solution, across all countries.
Education and
training
50%
Develop prescriptive
and consistent
standards
11%
Focus on the business
benefits
10%
Form
stakeholder
collaborations
(industry,
government,
associations,
universities,
NGO)
10%
Local research
5%
Engage national and
heritage pride
5%
Tie to human welfare
5%
Tie to food safety and antibiotic
resistance
4%
Figure 2.
The top 12 stakeholder suggested solutions and opportunities to improving animal welfare
(% frequency with which each of the top 12 solutions was represented, across all countries).
Animals 2019,9, 319 11 of 26
Table 4. Solutions to improving animal welfare presented by livestock leaders in each location.
China Vietnam Thailand Malaysia India Bangladesh
Beijing Guangzhou Zhengzhou Hanoi
Ho Chi
Minh
City
Ban
Me
Thout
Bangkok Chiang
Mai
Khon
Kaen
Kuala
Lumpur
Negeri
Sembilan Kolkata Bangalore Trivandrum Dhaka Mymensingh Savar
Childhood education X X X X X X X X X X
Industry training X X X X X X X X X X X X
Build public awareness X X X X X X X X X X X
Build AW profile using mass
media XXX X XX XX
Build AW profile using social
media XX XX XXXX
Societal move to larger and
licensed slaughterhouses for ease
of monitoring
XXX
Local research on issues and local
holistic solutions XX XX X
Engage cultural pride/goodness in
heritage XX X X X
Create prescriptive and consistent
standards and company policy XX XX X XX X XX
Focus on science to eliminated
emotive stigma XX
Focus on One Welfare, and the
holistic human tie XXXXX
Focus on business benefits to
improving animal welfare XX XXX X X X XX
Consumer willingness to pay
campaigns XX
Collaborations between
stakeholder groups (industry,
industry groups, NGO,
government, universities)
XXX XXXXXX X
Regional flexibility and
understanding for standards X
Peer skill sharing XX X
Leverage food safety or
antimicrobial resistance for AW XXXX
Leverage new technology to
safeguard animal welfare X
Incorporate animal welfare into
religious curriculum XXX
Animals 2019,9, 319 12 of 26
Animals 2019, 9, 319 10 of 26
Figure 2. The top 12 stakeholder suggested solutions and opportunities to improving animal welfare
(% frequency with which each of the top 12 solutions was represented, across all countries).
Figure 3. Visual representation of the % frequency of subsets within the ‘Education and Training’
solution, across all countries.
Education and
training
50%
Develop prescriptive
and consistent
standards
11%
Focus on the business
benefits
10%
Form
stakeholder
collaborations
(industry,
government,
associations,
universities,
NGO)
10%
Local research
5%
Engage national and
heritage pride
5%
Tie to human welfare
5%
Tie to food safety and antibiotic
resistance
4%
Figure 3.
Visual representation of the % frequency of subsets within the ‘Education and Training’
solution, across all countries.
3.2.1. China
The solutions presented with the most frequency in China centred on a practical and pragmatic
approach. Firstly, the creation of industry standards that are prescriptive by nature, locally relevant to
China, and based on scientific measurements (Table 4). “During the conference of the last October in
Hangzhou the wise Minister of China Agriculture expressed (the view) that we cannot have animal
welfare standards that are not realistic in the Chinese situation, they must be based on our own
situation, not based on other countries” <BJ>. “Animal welfare is never ending, conceptually, so
we need specific standards and guidance on how to meet them
...
because you cannot meet the
requirements of a concept” <BJ>.
The second solution presented in all sessions in China was the need to present clear information
on the business benefits for improving animal welfare. “Companies want to make money, so when
animal welfare can improve their benefits they will incorporate that notion” <BJ>.”Is there any specific
data to prove a positive connection between animal welfare and eciency of economic benefits to
company? If we have such data it will become much easier to promote the concept” <GZ>. “We need
to communicate that animal welfare can improve their productivity” <ZZ>.
Five other solutions were repeatedly presented with emphasis in China, though not in every
session. One of these focussed on building a body of local research that is Chinese led, and specifically
relevant to the Chinese industry and conditions. “We have all the foreign countries pressing us
to go forward on animal welfare and that will make us confused
...
the foreign countries have
advanced animal welfare practices and they are pushing us to go like them but we don’t have the
fundamentals <BJ>.
“We need to encourage the Chinese academics to promote the research, first the scientific
knowledge. It is easier to trust Chinese science conducted in a Chinese environment” <BJ>.
Collaboration between stakeholder groups, in particular the importance of working with Chinese
government, was raised in each session. “The government is very important to the Chinese people,
for example, if government media says ok we need a green environment, it will engage the common
people” <ZZ>. “The government need(s) to consider that if we have better animal welfare we may
have more advantages in international trading or leading positions ahead of other countries” <BJ>.
Animals 2019,9, 319 13 of 26
“If the government focusses on this people will follow, but if not, they won’t do it (animal welfare
improvement)” <GZ>.
The last three of these could be grouped together as focussed on raising awareness of animal
welfare amongst the general public, and lifting the profile of animal welfare both in social media, and
mass media. “First we should rely on the internet and second is that we can use documentaries to
promote (animal welfare, including) social media such as Weibo and applications with live videos
such as Huajiao” <BJ>.
3.2.2. India
Education focussed on children was a primary solution to improving animal welfare, according
to Indian stakeholders. “Everyone in the general public, right from school children age should be
educated
...
not only about dogs, all animals should be treated well and it should be part of the
curriculum. It should be made mandatory if they’re involved with animals or not, because they will
come across animals” <BA>.
For both children and adults alike, a pride in the ‘goodness’ of Indian heritage; the history of
belief in the sacred nature of life and the holiness of animals could be used as a platform to convey
messages of respect and empathy that would underpin behaviours that seek to advocate for the welfare
of animals. “Indians are the people who worship animals, so taking care of their welfare is equal to
taking care of God, but most people are not aware of that
...
so you can direct things in that angle.”
<TR>. “Consider gods of Hindus, every god is related to some animal, and we had a great culture of
worshipping these animals; welfare is taking care of needs, people will see that as caring for gods”
<TR>.
Stories traditional to Indian heritage could be an important tool to assist in this purpose. “When
we were kids there was a set of tales all about how animals and humans co-exist and how humans learn
lessons from animals. It’s sad that in today in schools those tales are not taught to children. We are
copying the West and taking your stories and lessons, but these short stories are beautiful; how much
we interact and benefit from symbiotic relationships
...
this could be done in schools” <KO>. “Being
kind and compassionate to animals is there in our history, mythology and stories, we have grown up
with it. However, over time we are living in urban pockets with shopping malls and we have lost
the connection with animals and that they too feel pain and suer; we have to start re-educating our
children and society.” <KO>.
Utilising social media to build awareness around animal welfare issues, and to elicit empathy and
concern was also raised in each session in India. This included the use of Indian celebrities (specifically
Bollywood stars and cricketers), which was deemed to be an important medium to elicit interest. “It is
very popular in India to use celebrities; for example in India, cricket is religion
...
we had an Indian
cricket captain speak on TV about vaccination for rabies...involving celebrities has a very good impact”
<BA>. “Youtube and WhatsApp are popular platforms” <TR>.
Other solutions presented in most of the sessions in India included a need to understand the
complex local issues through research, including all stakeholders impacted by potential solutions,
which could then result in a holistic ‘roadmap’ to solving the issue. “Basically, India is very vast
country with so many kinds of issues and we don’t have a program like a road map to achieve what
we can do. It’s a little like trac, you people would be shocked, however, we cannot have trac rules
like those which exist in Australia
...
What applies to your country may not apply to our country, so
we need practical local road maps” <BA>.
One Welfare, the need to focus on human welfare and livelihood in solving animal welfare issues,
was reiterated with wide agreement in most of the sessions. “So where human welfare is a problem
how do you think about animal welfare? They both need to be addressed at the same time” <BA>.
“Unlike in other countries you can’t see animals as a separate entity to the people; animals form an
important and integral part of our livelihood” <TR>.
Animals 2019,9, 319 14 of 26
Where this approach to solutions had been attempted, stakeholders shared success stories. “We
stopped bear dancing in India, we did not just say stop, we re-employed them and gave them new
professions
...
same with snake charmers, snakes are confiscated and we give alternate professions.
So we should not only approach the animal welfare, but ensure the welfare of humans is not
compromised
...
especially in India where 70% of population goes to bed without a meal” <BA>.
This notion fed back into the need to conduct comprehensive research with stakeholders before putting
initiatives in place.
Lastly, on the implementation of law in India, it was felt that initiatives that increase the
implementation and monitoring of the existing laws may aid solutions, however, it was believed to be
a highly political landscape, and therefore, a complicated route. “India has the most advanced animal
welfare laws, we are the only country where animal welfare is mentioned in the constitution, but for so
many political reasons it lacks implementation. One reason is that every slaughterhouse, barring a
few, is owned by Muslims and it is a politically sensitive issue (with the government predominated
by Hindus). If you go with police and stop something at the slaughterhouse there will be riot, there
will fighting and there will be dying
...
so no government will dare take on issue, they have bigger
problems. In some places the slaughterhouse is locked from the inside; what happens inside nobody
knows ... nobody can do anything as (it is) politically sensitive” <KO>.
3.2.3. Malaysia
The need to educate children to plan for a society in which animal welfare notions are received
with more openness was presented as a priority in all of the Malaysian sessions. The nature of education
in Malaysia, however, was thought to benefit from a more technical focus on the animals themselves,
and the basics of agriculture. “Children need to be taught about agriculture, where eggs and milk
come from
...
doctors, accountants and lawyers
...
no one has any idea about where anything comes
from. Then the next step is to talk about animal welfare
...
it would be much easier to talk about
animal welfare when they have a base understanding” <NS>. “Increasing personal value should start
at school with children, they need to realise that animals are creatures of God, created by God and we
should appreciate them” <KL>.
Building public awareness around what animal welfare is, the links to product quality and the
benefits relating to animal welfare were considered beneficial. “People need to be educated on animal
wellness and welfare and also food security. Providing a safe and quality product can all be related to
in animal welfare education” <KL>
The Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) within the Malaysian Government were thought to
be in the best position to share these awareness messages, as the authority that ensures the requirements
of both the religious body in Malaysia, Jakim are met (such as the production of halal), along with
those of the government, and the animals). “Education should be through DVS and it should be
standardised, otherwise everyone has their own thoughts” <NS>. “DVS are now organising seminars,
talks and one-on-one sessions, support is free
...
get DVS to advise on animal welfare and they can
dispense the advice to farmers” <NS>.
Collaborations between DVS and other important bodies, such as Jakim and universities, with
livestock industries and NGO bodies, were seen as the only way to progress animal welfare issues
with wide reaching impact in Malaysia. “Religious authorities know about the importance of animal
welfare but they don’t know what happens on farms so they don’t know how to improve it; it is a
matter of education between religious authorities and DVS as technical advisors” <NS>.
The last solution that was presented by stakeholders in all of the sessions was that of presenting
livestock business managers with the financial benefits for improving animal welfare. “I agree,
education is a must, and without education we don’t understand the importance of animal welfare
...
but for the businessman profit is a must; if you can show them by doing this (improving welfare) you
will improve your profit, the boss will tell them do it now, not tomorrow, now!” <NS>.
Animals 2019,9, 319 15 of 26
3.2.4. Thailand
Reliance on government oering industry training to improve animal welfare was one of the two
stakeholder solutions that were presented in all of the sessions in Thailand.
“Previously we just have been told to do animal welfare, not how to do it, so that detailed
information would be good...for example, instead of telling us that we need enrichment for the animals,
tell us what it is, and how we can make it” <BK>. “In general I think Department of Livestock (DOD)
are in the best position to look after this, with ocers not only in the central areas but also districts and
regional areas” <BK>.
In line with this, the other solution presented in all Thai sessions was creating a collaborative
animal welfare network that comprised the Thai Department of Livestock (DOD), livestock industry
leaders, and academics. “Department of livestock, local agricultural ocers and universities or colleges
should work together. The DOD should be the main organisation but the ocers need to deal with the
farmers after the university or college build the ocers knowledge” <CM>“I think everyone works in
a silo at the moment. Everyone aims to improve animal welfare, but the scientists only research and
the businesses only focus on business. Who will lead us to bring our groups and stakeholders in line in
animal welfare?” <BK>.
The notion of peer knowledge sharing between livestock stakeholders, and between knowledgeable
farmers, was presented in most of the sessions in Thailand, as was the potential utility of livestock
associations in the facilitation of this process. “We have success when we see another farm succeed.
In smaller farms you may try something but have obstacles, but once other farms have the same
experience and find success then it is easier to learn from others and implement it” <BK>.
“(People on) small farms in villages are friends anyway and they might form an organisation
or association to exchange ideas. So they might come and share and influence others. They have
organisations of pig farmers, chicken farmers, and beef association and so on, so they can organise for
members to share knowledge” <BK>. “The associations communicate with each other on things like
Facebook and (on-)Line” <BK>.
A pride in the existing kindness and empathy inherent in Thai culture was evident in Thai sessions,
and for this reason it was thought that training initiatives could be more usefully focussed on how
to implement better animal welfare, rather than why to do this. “Thai people are kind, I think our
personal value may be related to our Buddhism; as a Buddhist the first rule is be kind to animals, to
the living things” <BK>. “They think that as farmers they don’t know what animal welfare is, in terms
of definition or phrase, but when we take care of animals we want our animals to be comfortable, to be
healthy
...
Farmers will do all kind of things to make sure their animals are well, things that might
collectively be focussed on animal welfare
...
some things they do by good intention though (they)
may not be good for animal welfare” <BK>.
Building the profile of animal welfare through social media was also presented in most Thai
sessions, with messages in line with the aforementioned solutions; an emphasis on Thai cultural
kindness by the general public, and information on successful practical methods of improving animal
welfare from ‘knowledgeable farmers’. “Cooperation between friends and peers will help with the
ability to improve animal welfare, farmer to farmer. In Thailand right now, especially in rural and
regional areas, there are people who will hold a lot of knowledge and are very successful, a lot of
farmers from everywhere will come and learn from them” <CM>.
Lastly, although the need to create clear and consistent animal welfare standards as a solution was
only presented as a solution in one session, it was presented with great emphasis from stakeholders in
that session. Confusion and frustration existed at one of the largest animal production companies in
Thailand, within which an animal welfare agenda was active, with evolving policy aimed at improving
animal welfare standards for export market reasons. “There are many dierent kinds of law and
dierent countries will be slightly dierent
...
so which law we should follow? We are in Thailand,
but once we export do we follow the Thai law? We have to focus on country law and our customer,
the European Union (EU) may say this stocking density is acceptable but the buying company may
Animals 2019,9, 319 16 of 26
disagree. We can say this is EU law and we comply but they say no we must meet our company law”
<BK>.
3.2.5. Vietnam
Providing industry training on animal welfare was raised as an important solution to improving
livestock animal welfare in all of the Vietnamese sessions. “Training is first priority for stakeholders
who directly work with animals” <HCM>.
The leader of one of the largest beef importers in Vietnam attested to the likelihood of success of
practical skill-based stakeholder training programs. “From our company’s perspective, some years ago
I knew nothing about animal welfare and some other people and I were trained by an Australian export
company. I became aware of the importance of animal welfare, then I read and got more knowledge
and I trained my sta. Our industry partner company initiated the training and it was run by MLA
(Meat and Livestock Australia)” <HCM>.
The other solution raised in all of the Vietnamese sessions was again that of childhood education.
In this instance, a concern for animals was believed to be currently lacking, and could be fostered in
children, eventually increasing the uptake of industry training for livestock stakeholders. “All children
should be educated about animal welfare for basic knowledge, and then as they grow up animal
welfare grows too. The problem now is not a lack of care, just that the knowledge is poor. Education
for children is for the future, while specific training for stakeholders is for short term” <HA>.
Additionally, raised in most, but not all, sessions in Vietnam was the need to raise public awareness
that animal welfare is a consideration, which feeds into the need for childhood education, and also
to focus awareness of the livestock stakeholder leaders on the financial benefits of improving animal
welfare. “Companies are big business, so if they know that if you apply good methods it will increase
profits they can invest, as they have the money and systems to do it, and the training” <HCM>.
3.2.6. Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, the need to focus solutions on human welfare and livelihood was presented in
every session, with wide agreement from stakeholders. “There are more major issues than animal
welfare here
...
human rights in Bangladesh is hard, so how do you think about animal welfare?”
<MS>. “If we want to improve animal welfare we have to think of farmer welfare also as they are
closely related. Most animals come from family production, about 60%, they are poor and their
livelihood depends on farming” <SA>. “No farmer welfare, no animal welfare” <SA>.
Further to this, all stakeholder sessions proposed that the creation of prescriptive and consistent
standards for improving livestock welfare would oer a solution to improving animal welfare, as the
knowledge levels are basic and it is not known how to improve animal welfare. “First the government
must build guidelines” <SA>.
In place of rigorous scientific knowledge around animal welfare, laypeople (defined by stakeholders
as those treating animals with no professional training or professional degree) have become prevalent
in Bangladesh, causing problems for the health and wellbeing of the animals they treat.
Following this, oering industry stakeholder training was the last solution presented in all
Bangladeshi sessions, with the target audience to include government representatives. “First we need
good training materials and then we should have master trainers
...
then they will make another
group of master trainers, and this will be continued. Nowadays everyone has smart phone and wants
to play with it, they like it. Farmers too
...
so farmers can have access to those materials and they
can see and understand easily. By looking at that material again and again maybe this will come into
their heart. Facebook is also very popular here” <DH>. “The big stakeholder is DLS (Department of
Livestock Services). DLS personnel should be trained properly (to be) number one, then they can train
the farmers up. The training should be a continuous process” <DH>.
Additionally, raised in most of the sessions was the need to build public awareness to support the
profile of animal welfare, primarily through traditional mass media, specifically television and radio.
Animals 2019,9, 319 17 of 26
“We need to develop awareness ... we have a TV cartoon in Bangladesh that plays an important role
in women’s empowerment and the basic needs of human health, a similar attractive TV program for
children on animal welfare could help make a sustainable change for the nation” <DH>. “Currently
our government has an advertisement about polio vaccinations, we need something similar for animal
welfare” <SA>.
Further to the solutions that focus on animal welfare as a complementary cause, rather than a
stand-alone endeavour, stakeholders in most of the sessions in Bangladesh emphasised that food
safety and antimicrobial resistance were more important issues in Bangladesh, but had the ability to be
widened to include animal welfare. “Two issues are more important, one is food safety and the other is
antibiotic resistance
...
If you want animal welfare to be popular you must tie animal welfare to these”
<SA>. “One example from two years back, our society was not aware of antimicrobial resistance, but in
the last two years in collaboration with DLS and under a One Health approach they raised awareness,
and nowadays people are aware about AB resistance ... so animal welfare should start now” <DH>.
In relation to themes, stakeholders in most sessions proposed that solutions should be focussed
on the human benefits for improving the welfare of animals, including improved productivity and
profit. “First we need motivation
...
if I understand what benefits I might get if I follow an animal
welfare path and understand the advantages to our economy and to public health then we can easily
accept (it)” <SA>.
Citing that animal welfare is a brand-new consideration in Bangladesh, one stakeholder made
a proposal to other participant stakeholders on conclusion of the session; “maybe we could make a
network of people interested in animal welfare. Maybe we are ten people and after six months 50%
will drop out but we have a platform to extend our views and share new idea” <DH>.
3.3. Improving Animal Handling Skills
In response to the question, ‘on a scale from 1–10 how willing do you think people handling
the animals would be to improve their stockperson skills to be calmer and gentler with the animals’
stakeholders provided a rating (Table 5). After providing ratings, stakeholders were asked for
suggestions to improve the willingness of stock handlers to improve their skills to be more gentle and
calmer with the animals. The most common response in all countries was that catchers and movers
needed more time, as they are often working quickly to either meet demands, or to get paid for their
job and move on, mostly being contractors or casuals recruited from a foreign contingent.
Suggested solutions included incentivising the absence of injury to animals and good carcass
quality, hiring a sustainable workforce who are then trained appropriately, hiring workers with the
right personal characteristics to be gentle, structuring the pay dierently, oering starewards for
careful catching, caring for the handlers to ensure they are not tired and are well rested so as to not let
their work slip, looking into machinery to replace workers, investing in better tools for the workers
to use, better advertising the benefits of gentle handling, teaching handlers about animal behaviour,
reviewing management processes to ensure fewer animals arrive at slaughterhouses at the same time,
monitoring and supervising the process both in person and using CCTV, issuing penalties for rough
stockmanship, and researching and counteracting the eects of desensitising to suering.
Animals 2019,9, 319 18 of 26
Table 5.
Willingness to learn calmer animal handling techniques, from a scale of 1–10 (not
willing—extremely willing), by location.
nMean * Median *
Bangladesh
Dhaka 9 9.7 10
Mymensingh 8 6 5.5
Savar 11 9.4 10
China
Beijing 9 8 7.5
Guangzhou 7 8.4 8
Zhengzhou 7 6 6
India
Kolkata 5 7.6 8
Bangalore 6 7 7.5
Trivandrum 4 4.4 4
Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur 12 7.6 8
Negeri Sembilan 5 1.6 2
Thailand
Bangkok 9 7.5 7
Chiang Mai 6 9 10
Khon Kaen 3 8.3 8
Vietnam
Hanoi 5 7.5 7.5
Ban Me Thout 5 6.2 6
Ho Chi Minh City 5 7 7
* 1 being stakeholders who are extremely unlikely to embrace stunning, 10 being extremely likely.
4. Discussion
4.1. Issues
In regards to the ranking of issues, it is noted that most stakeholder groups presented them in order
of importance in line with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a pertinent human model of psychological
motivations [
19
]. That is, basic physiological needs of food and water were presented as the most
important issues in most situations, as they are for humans. Anthropomorphism, the practice of
projecting human feelings onto other species, is often the subject of caution, as it is not based on a
scientific knowledge of the animals and their needs [
20
]. However, in many instances it helps humans
to relate to, and empathise with, other species [
21
,
22
], and in the context of this study could be useful.
On multiple occasions in dierent countries, stakeholders shared their experiences of training farm
staand slaughter stato describe how animals may feel in the environment, too hot or too cold, for
example, and they believed that it is important to be aware that the animals may have similar feelings.
However, caution is still advisable as culture is obviously influencing the perceived impact that
certain animal welfare issues, such as the lack of stunning at slaughter, have on animals. Although
the lack of stunning at slaughter was rated with high importance overall, immediately after lack
of food, lack of water, and rough handling, in some countries (Bangladesh and Malaysia), a lack
of pre-slaughter stunning was not seen as a significant concern for the animals and their welfare.
This perception is likely to be based on religious belief, with most Bangladeshis adhering to a traditional
sect of Islam that believes that the preparation of halal food, i.e., that which is permissible for
Muslims to eat, needs to exclude pre-slaughter stunning, with the practice seldom conducted during
Animals 2019,9, 319 19 of 26
slaughter [
23
]. Although animal welfare science demonstrates that pre-slaughter stunning improves
animal welfare [
24
26
], the belief that it is not acceptable seems to be transferred to the perceived
experience of the animals regardless.
Boredom was consistently rated as the lowest animal welfare concern, with some stakeholder
groups purposefully leaving it out of the activity, confused as to why it was included as an animal
welfare issue, and in some cases, met with scepticism. This may indicate a lack of understanding of the
concept of mental welfare in animals, as well as animal behaviour and enrichment.
This activity was a valuable insight into the perception of stakeholders in dierent countries, and
provided indications as to which animal welfare issues are likely to be more easily acknowledged and
accepted by industry stakeholders in each region.
4.2. Solutions
The solutions and opportunities presented for addressing animal welfare expectedly varied
between countries, in line with findings of previous studies with students and the general public [
27
29
].
However, the key sentiments of education, training, and awareness remained universal.
Despite this, the level of emphasis on education, training, and awareness and how best to conduct
initiatives diered between countries. Solutions in both India and Thailand were community-focussed,
reflecting the interconnectedness of animal welfare to people’s livelihood in India, and solutions based
on knowledge sharing which, in Thailand, was proposed to be through industry association groups
and farmer peer groups. Thailand is a community-based society, ranking very high on the Hofstedes
cultural dimension of ‘collectivism’ (‘we’ rather than ‘I’), which may, in part, explain this finding [
30
].
It also reflects previous survey findings in Thailand that show that livestock stakeholders are more
encouraged to improve animal welfare when it is important to their peers [
10
]. A focus on solutions
that leverage a heritage of kindness in Thailand, and respect and reverence in India is understandable
in light of the Buddhist and Hindu beliefs surrounding empathy and animal gods, respectively, and
the large proportion of Buddhists in Thailand (93.2%) and Hindus in India (80.5%) [31,32].
Stakeholders in India, like those in Bangladesh, emphasised the importance of human welfare,
and that animal welfare improvement should not be addressed in isolation, and where it is it will not
be successful or sustainable. This concept of ‘One Welfare’ recognises the interconnectedness of animal
welfare, environmental sustainability, and human welfare and advocates holistic solutions based on a
knowledge of these interactions [
33
]. Of the countries investigated, India and Bangladesh have the
highest rates of poverty, at 21.2% and 14.8% of the population, respectively, and the lowest income per
capita, which may explain the emphasis on human welfare and livelihood in these areas as compared
to the other countries [34].
While mentioned in other countries, such as China, the suggestion to tie animal welfare to other
issues considered as public safety, such as food safety and biosecurity, was particularly prevalent
in Bangladesh. The relative scarcity of both human and animal healthcare in Bangladesh probably
explains this [35].
In China, unlike the other countries, education and industry training was not presented as a
solution to improving animal welfare. With a strong focus on tertiary education within China [
34
]
this finding was unexpected, however, it is also explicable for this very reason. According to data
collected in 2014, expected years of education in the Chinese population were higher than those in
the populations of other investigated countries [
36
]. Quotes from the Chinese stakeholders suggested
that it was believed that the education and training levels were sucient, but that there was a lack of
prescriptive scientifically-supported standards or guidelines that were locally relevant to China.
While the presence and impact of animal welfare law was not the focus of this study, given it was
not a solution stakeholders felt they had control over, it was intermittently thematic in these sessions,
particularly as its absence presented an impediment to solutions. Animal welfare law is at dierent
stages in the various countries of this study: China has no national farm animal welfare legislation,
and it has been argued that these would be better implemented at a local level anyway [
37
]. In contrast
Animals 2019,9, 319 20 of 26
to this India has had animal welfare legislation for almost 100 years, which illegitimises many cruel
acts relevant to farm animals and has been updated several times, with the support of the Animal
Welfare Board of India [
38
]. Bangladesh still has the animal welfare legislation enacted in colonial days
but, recently, it has been utilised with greater frequency [
39
]. Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam have
just introduced new animal welfare legislation, in 2015, 2014, and 2018, respectively, which has similar
regulatory control of cruel acts to farm animals as India [4042].
Indian stakeholders in every session presented with pride the fact that India had drafted more
animal welfare laws than any other country, however, this followed with exasperation that the laws
were not practicable or implementable in most cases. Likewise, in one session in Thailand, stakeholders
demonstrated frustration with the lack of clarity around which animal welfare laws and standards
they should follow, compounded when they are seeking to export to companies in western countries.
With that, the contrast between environmental conditions in Thailand and the importing countries in
Europe was emphasized. By way of example, one stakeholder shared that regulation for importers
in the transport of chickens was that they were not to be sprayed with water, for welfare reasons.
However, spraying the birds with water in the humid climate of Thailand was sometimes conducted for
the very same reason: animal welfare. Likewise, electrical stunning standards set in Europe to ensure
an eective stun of poultry is set for the welfare of the birds, however, when replicated in Thailand
on smaller poultry species the birds are often killed by the same process. This might suggest a need
for regional flexibility in international standards, with outcomes based on the animal and its welfare.
A shift from a universal approach to standards, to respectful international relations and regional
tailoring would minimise confusion, frustration, and maximise uptake of standards. Stakeholders in
all countries stated that they would be willing to adhere to standards for improved animal welfare
if they were practicable, based on science, and locally tailored. This then suggested a need for local
collaborative research in each region to ascertain what the specific animal welfare issues might be, who
the key stakeholders might be, who is in a position to influence the welfare of the animals, and what
might enable them to do that. The result would be an understanding of who to approach, with what
messages, and what support to approach them with. This was a focus particularly in India, where the
sociopolitical environment is complex, chaotic, and sometimes contradictory.
To summarise the sentiments of education, training, and awareness that was a prominent theme
throughout this study, in all countries children need to be educated on the value of the animal, what
they are, and why welfare is important, and the general public need to be informed on farming practices
so that, as consumers, they will pay more for higher-welfare products. Additionally, the livestock
industry needs educating on the potential benefits of addressing animal welfare and how to implement
it, and government ocers, lawmakers and law enforcers need education to understand what animal
welfare is and, often, the detail of the standards for improving animal welfare in their country. Finally,
animal welfare scientists and advocates need education in the realities of the livestock business. To this
purpose, multistakeholder collaborations could underpin major progress in animal welfare around
the world.
4.3. Application
Below are listed potential opportunities to improve international animal welfare strategies and
tailor them by region, derived from the findings of this study (Table 6).
While the findings of this study may be applied to improve animal welfare initiatives, it is
important to note that solutions shared by the stakeholders are indicative of their perceptions and
each suggested solution needs to be holistically assessed, considering all relevant stakeholders, and
the socio-economic and political landscape in each country as to their suitability. Additional societal-
and market-driven solutions also exist to improving animal welfare, to which an integrated global
market could further assist. A limitation to this study exists in the variability of group size, from
three stakeholders, to 17 stakeholders in the largest. This could have impacted the group dynamic,
and therefore, the responses that were shared. While groups that numbered less than the intended
Animals 2019,9, 319 21 of 26
minimum size of five (four in Trivandrum, India and three in Khon Kaen, Thailand) constituted a useful
mix of government and industry stakeholders (two government/two industry, and one government/two
industry, respectively), some limitations in stakeholder role diversity exist. One important example
includes the lack of private veterinarians in the Chinese contingent of participants.
Table 6.
Evidence supported opportunities for international animal welfare initiatives operating in Asia.
China
Development of prescriptive standards based on science and economic modelling
Support the development of local farm animal welfare research
Clearly communicate the business benefits for improving farm animal welfare in industry forums
Continue building the profile of animal welfare amongst the general public on Chinese social media
platforms such as Weibo, Huajiao, and Wechat, including food blog messages of improved product
quality and taste
Create documentaries (partnering with state media and government) on farm animal welfare
India
Develop school-based education on animal empathy, utilising the cultural history of reverence for
animals; including Indian heritage stories of the symbiotic relationship between humans and animals to
support a reconnection to both Indian cultural heritage and animals
Support local research to holistically understand animal welfare issues in detail that will enable the
development of tailored strategies and issue-specific programs that will also benefit
stakeholder livelihoods
Raise the awareness of the general public to animal welfare by hosting social media campaigns that
feature celebrities, and leverage the Hindu and Indian cultural heritage of reverence for animals.
Popular platforms locally include YouTube and WhatsApp
Tie animal welfare to televisual public announcement campaigns that support the concept of One
Welfare, featuring human welfare-related issues, such as rabies management
Ensure regulatory bodies, such as the Animal Welfare Board of India, are inclusive of stakeholders that
represent communities responsible for animal welfare at critical points in their lives, such as the
inclusion of Muslim representatives for the livestock processing community
Thailand
Develop industry stakeholder animal welfare training that focusses on how to improve animal welfare,
which is best coordinated by the Department of Livestock Development in collaboration with livestock
associations, with non-government organisation coordination assistance if requested
Facilitate peer sharing events and platforms based on animal welfare, that involve livestock association
groups and utilise knowledgeable farmers to share experiences and advice
Leverage the local culture of kindness and empathy to build education programs and initiatives that are
backed with animal welfare knowledge
Advocate childhood and community education based on existing empathy and Buddhist ideals to
improve animal welfare in locations such as community halls and temples
Produce clear and consistent animal welfare standards that are tailored to the Thai environment, and
advocate international acceptance of these standards for export
Vietnam
Develop industry training on what animal welfare is, why animal welfare should be addressed and
what the benefits are. Follow-up training to be oered on how to deliver improved animal welfare. Both
would be best hosted by livestock associations or international business partners, in collaboration with
the relevant government agency
Research the perception of children to animals in Vietnam and develop a childhood education program
that fosters empathy and concern for animals at school
Malaysia
Develop collaborative educational programs to be hosted by the Department of Veterinary Services
(DVS) to build the capacity and knowledge of JAKIM (the Malaysian Islamic Authority) on farm animal
welfare, to increase understanding around pre-slaughter stunning and other matters of animal welfare
Develop technical training programs to be hosted by DVS for industry, to build awareness of business
benefits for improving animal welfare, and best practice standards
Advocate the addition of agricultural education for children to focus on where their food comes from,
and why it is important to care
Develop campaigns that draw on the religious mandate outlined in Islamic texts to be careful guardians
of animal welfare
Develop public awareness campaigns that tie improved welfare products to quality
Animals 2019,9, 319 22 of 26
Table 6. Cont.
Bangladesh
Support the development of internationally-advised, locally-devised standards for livestock welfare
Create a network of representatives interested in progressing the field of animal welfare in livestock
production in Bangladesh, including academics, government veterinarians and key
industry stakeholders
Collaborate with the network of representatives to create animal welfare training materials for
government representatives, and for farmers, that focus on the human welfare benefits for improving
animal welfare, and the fundamentals to improving mutual welfare (in a One Welfare framework)
Deliver animal welfare education by training trainers, thus empowering the growth of animal welfare
specialists within Bangladesh
Develop a smart phone application on which the training materials are freely available. This application
could also host the animal welfare network and be advertised on social media
Develop public awareness campaigns that tie farm animal welfare to food safety and antibiotic resistance
Produce a children’s show in the likeness of a popular existing Bangladeshi show that encourages the
empowerment of women and that holistically focusses on animal welfare and human welfare
5. Conclusions
Livestock industry stakeholders have a good understanding of their industries and are in an ideal
position to identify problems, find opportunities, and to enact solutions regarding animal welfare.
Therefore, engaging them in farm animal welfare initiatives should, preferably, be the first stage of
any strategic plan to improve animal welfare. This study suggested that solutions centred around
education, training, and awareness were likely to have a great impact in most countries, however, the
precise details of best practice implementation of these solutions varies with region and socioeconomic
and political landscape.
The need for local research to develop local solutions, and an improved understanding of animal
welfare supported by clear and consistent prescriptive standards was also evident. Through this
animal welfare assessment focus can be on relevant outcomes, rather than utilizing a common set of
criteria that may have weak links to animal outcomes. Bearing this in mind, optimal strategies are
presented for each country.
The findings of this study can be applied to increase the background understanding of those who
wish to be animal welfare proponents, to advise on the creation of an informed animal welfare strategy
that is most likely to see success.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization and methodology: M.S. and C.J.C.P.; formal analysis: M.S.;
investigation, analysis, and data curation: M.S.; writing—original draft preparation: M.S.; writing—review and
editing: C.J.C.P.; supervision: C.J.C.P.; funding acquisition: M.S. and C.J.C.P.
Funding: This research was funded by the Open Philanthropy Project.
Acknowledgments:
We acknowledge the support of Claire Fryer as Research Assistant, for the creation of field
notes in each research session. The authors also wish to acknowledge research partners who assisted in the
coordination of sessions in Asia. This includes Zulkfili Idrus in Malaysia, M.Ariful Islam in Bangladesh, Abdul
Rahman in India, Wang Yan in China, Suporn Katawatin in Thailand and Duong van Nhiem in Vietnam. Finally,
acknowledgement is given to the livestock leaders in each country who donated time from their demanding
schedules to provide valuable animal welfare insights while participating in the research.
Conflicts of Interest:
The authors declare no conflict of interest; the funders had no role in the design of the study;
in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to publish
the results.
Animals 2019,9, 319 23 of 26
Appendix A
Table A1. Focus group structure and base questions.
Question Number Question Q Category (Analysis
Intentions)
Approx. Time
Allocation
1
Please introduce yourselves by stating your name and
where you work.
Introductory (not used in
analysis) 10 min
2What are the benefits you see to improving animal
welfare? Transition 10 min
3
Share top 5 modes of encouragement (write on board,
or flipchart).
In recent research we completed, stakeholders in your
country said they were more encouraged to improve
animal welfare if the changes were prescribed in some
specific ways. These are the top 5 ways.
Can you please share your thoughts and ideas on the
reasons why the stakeholders rated this so highly in
this country?
Key (all comments included
in thematic analysis) 15 min
4
Follow on from last question.
What might be the best strategies to use this
information to motivate stakeholders to improve
animal welfare?
Key (all comments included
in thematic analysis) 10 min
5
Share top 5 factors’ impacting ability (write on board,
or flipchart).
In recent research we completed, stakeholders in your
country rated the following as the top 5 factors that
impact their ability to improve animal welfare during
slaughter and transport.
Can you please share your thoughts and ideas on the
reasons the stakeholders rated this so highly in this
country?
Key (all comments included
in thematic analysis) 15 min
6
Follow on from last question.
What might be the best ways to support stakeholders
to make improvements to animal welfare?
Key (all comments included
in thematic analysis) 10 min
Coee break +prepare cards for Q3 follow on 15 min
7
Group activity (ranking exercise).
As a group, please place these cards in rank, from the
greatest animal welfare concern in this country to the
least.
Provide the group cards with listed animal welfare
concerns during slaughter and transport.
Key (record ranking for
analysis, transcribe key
comments during activity
for analysis)
10 min
8
Individual activity.
Please write down 3 changes that could be made in
your workplace to improve animal welfare.
Please each share the most important one.
Key (record response for
analysis) 10 min
9
Follow on from Q3. Ranking activity.
Based on your comments at the start, we made cards of
the benefits for improving animal welfare. As a group,
can you please place them in order of most important
to least important.
Key (record ranking for
analysis, transcribe key
comments during activity
for analysis)
10 min
10
On a scale of 1-10, 1 being extremely unlikely and 10
being extremely likely, how willing are stakeholders to
embrace stunning prior to slaughter to ensure the
animal is completely unconscious before killing it?
Move around the table one by one.
Transition (record rating for
analysis, transcribe key
comments during activity
for analysis)
10 min
11 How could stunning be implemented where it isn’t
already?
Key (all comments included
in thematic analysis) 10 min
12
On a scale of 1-10, 1 being extremely unlikely and 10
being extremely likely, how willing are stakeholders to
improve their stockpersonship skills to be calmer with
the animals?
Transition (record rating for
analysis, transcribe key
comments during activity
for analysis)
10 min
Animals 2019,9, 319 24 of 26
Table A1. Cont.
Question Number Question Q Category (Analysis
Intentions)
Approx. Time
Allocation
13 How could stakeholders be encouraged to improve
their stockpersonship skills?
Key (all comments included
in thematic analysis) 10 min
14 Of all of the points you have shared with us today,
what is the most important?
Key (all comments included
in thematic analysis) 15 min
15
Present a short oral summary of the key points as
presented by the participants.
Does that capture the most important points of today?
Have we missed anything?
Closing 5 min
Note:
the data and analysis resulting from the shaded questions are included within this manuscript. Data resulting
from all other questions is presented within publications addressing each subject separately.
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... Despite the importance of their role(s), industry workers are often overlooked during decision making processes or regulatory reform. However, workers can be a constructive resource for identifying welfare issues and implementing possible solutions [15,19]. Stock handlers' attitudes, beliefs, and comprehension of animal welfare are integral drivers for determining the likely nature of their interactions with livestock [15,20]. ...
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