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Researching Drivers of Animal Welfare Compliance - New Zealand

The Situation

In July 2010, the New Zealand Minister for Primary Industries, Hon. David Carter, launched a strategic plan, Safeguarding our Animals, Safeguarding our Reputation – Improving Animal Welfare Compliance in New Zealand.

Amongst other things, it specified the need for research to identify priority audiences for all levels of animal welfare compliance interventions.

To be able to target priority areas and measure progress, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) needed to understand existing levels of awareness of and compliance with animal welfare legislation in the livestock production sector (sheep, beef, dairy, poultry, pigs and deer).

MPI also needed to know what the barriers to compliance were and what would drive greater compliance.

In 2012, Prime Consulting International Ltd was contracted to carry out a research study for MPI to provide baseline information in these areas.

The Process

Quantitative information was gathered via a national telephone survey of livestock farmers using a Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) methodology. Selected respondents were interviewed in depth to add additional context to the quantitative findings.

The specific survey objectives were to determine:

  • Awareness of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and relevant codes of welfare
  • Levels of (self-reported) compliance with the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and relevant codes of welfare
  • Participation in industry quality assurance programmes
  • Factors that drove compliance with animal welfare legislation, i.e. what helped or motivated farmers to meet their obligations?
  • Barriers to compliance with animal welfare legislation, i.e. what hindered or prevented farmers from meeting their obligations?

The Outcome

Results showed a high level of awareness in the New Zealand commercial livestock farming industries about animal welfare. The majority of farmers considered animal welfare legal compliance very important.

Veterinarians, farm discussion groups and the farming media were seen as good, accessible sources of information on legal animal welfare requirements, as were industry bodies.

Project findings were presented to an industry forum on 21 November 2012. These findings informed the implementation of New Zealand's first national Animal Welfare Strategy.

A scientific paper on the study is available here.

Prime team members involved

  • Alan Pearson
  • Rhona MacKenzie
  • Grant Jeffrey
  • Inputs also from Mariusz Skorupski and MMResearch Ltd