UBC Faculty Research and Publications

American Citizens’ Views of an Ideal Pig Farm Sato, Patrycia; Hötzel, Maria J.; Von Keyserlingk, Marina A.G.


Food animal production practices are often cited as having negative animal welfare consequences. The U.S. swine industry has not been exempt from such criticisms. Little is known, however, about how lay citizens who are not actively engaged in agricultural discussions, think about swine production. Thus, the aim of this study was to explore the views of people not affiliated with the swine industry on what they perceived to be the ideal pig/pork farm, and their associated reasons. Through an online survey, participants were invited to respond to the following open-ended question: “What do you consider to be an ideal pig/pork farm and why are these characteristics important to you?”. Generally respondents considered animal welfare (e.g., space, freedom to move, and humane treatment), respondents considered the business operation role important for pork production (e.g., profitability, compliance with sanitary, environmental rules and regulations, and workers′ rights), and naturalness (e.g., natural feeding, behaviours and life) important for pork production. Concerns relating to pigs’ quality of life included space to move, feeding, contact with outdoors or nature, absence of pain, suffering and mistreatment. Perspectives were also raised regarding the ideal farm as a profitable business operation, clean, and with optimal sanitary conditions. Respondents also emphasized naturalness, frequently stating that pigs should have access to the outdoors, and rejected the use of hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals for the purposes of increasing production. In summary, the findings of this study suggest that the U.S. swine industry should strive to adopt animal management practices that resonate with societal values, such as ensuring humane treatment, and the failure to do so could risk the sustainability of the swine industry.

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