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A pilot survey of farm animal welfare in Serbia, a country preparing for EU accession

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-226
Number of pages19
JournalVeterinary Medicine and Science
Issue number4
Early online date23 Oct 2017
DateAccepted/In press - 12 Jul 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 23 Oct 2017
DatePublished (current) - Nov 2017


Background: The selection and field application of animal-based welfare measures for pigs, sheep, dairy cows and broilers was the first step towards the future development of welfare improvement schemes for Serbia - a country that is applying for EU accession.
Objectives: The aim of this pilot study was to: 1. test the feasibility of a protocol for monitoring farm animal welfare in Serbia, 2. ascertain preliminary data on animal-based outcomes of farm welfare and 3. gain insight into Serbian farmers’ understanding of animal welfare as part of a wider project working towards inclusion of animal-based assessments in a ‘higher welfare’ voluntary assurance scheme.
Methods: This study encompasses the first national survey of farm animal welfare in which animal-based outcomes were tested on 105 farms by a total of ten trained assessors. Data on the views and aspirations of the farmers from these 105 farms were also systematically gathered during face-to-face interviews.
Results: Existing animal-based measures for pigs, sheep, dairy cows and broilers that have been successfully applied and identified as valid, reliable and feasible measures in other countries, were found to be largely transferable. However, some on-farm protocols, previously used in other countries, had to be shortened for logistical reasons when used in Serbia. Our findings suggest that further refinement may be needed in order to allow local application of all measures. Whilst the term “animal welfare” has only recently been introduced into the Serbian language, seventy-three percent of farmers had heard of it. Overall, few positive associations were found between farmer satisfaction with animals’ living conditions and animal-based data.
Conclusions: Many farmers had aspirations to develop and expand their farms, which may potentially enhance animal welfare, but these farmers identified that financial and technical advice and support would be needed in order to achieve these goals.

    Research areas

  • Animal welfare, Farm animals, Farmer perceptions, Outcome measures, Serbia

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