Animal Welfare vs Food Quality: Factors Influencing Piglet Castration

Abstract: Surgical piglet castration without pain relief has been banned in organic farming in the EU since the beginning of 2012. Alternative methods therefore need to be implemented that improve animal welfare and solve the underlying problem of boar taint. This paper explores German organic consumers' preferences for piglet castration without pain relief and three alternative methods. In an innovative approach using a multi-criteria decision making procedure, qualitative data from focus group discussions were compared with quantitative results from Vickrey auctions. Overall, participants preferred all alternatives to castration without pain relief. Different aspects influenced willingness-to-pay for the methods. Animal welfare was important for the evaluation of castration without pain relief and castration with anaesthesia. Food safety played a major role for willingness-to-pay for immunocastration, while taste and, to some extent, animal welfare were dominant factors for fattening of boars. These differences should be considered when communicating the alternatives. (c) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Reference: Heid, A., and U. Hamm. (2013). Animal welfare versus food quality: Factors influencing organic consumers' preferences for alternatives to piglet castration without anaesthesia. Meat Science 95(2): 203-211. Available online at