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National Institute for Animal Agriculture reports:

There is a shift toward ethical consumerism in the developed world with more people asking pointed questions about animal welfare and sustainable farming.

"Once people have food security, they can afford to think about how their food is produced and how animals are treated in the process of becoming food," said Candace Croney, director for the Centre for Animal Welfare Science at Purdue University.

Consumer demands about animal treatment on farms have challenged scientists and ethicists to think about how livestock production might be improved.

"We do have significant animal welfare issues involving virtually every aspect of livestock and poultry production," she said at the National Institute of Animal Agriculture's annual meeting, which was held in Columbus April 3-6.

"It is highly contentious in the United States and in every developed nation at this point."

One of the most polarizing issues is housing for pigs and poultry. Purdue research in 2014 asked people about practices such as sow confinement, use of farrowing crates, tail docking, teeth clipping and ear notching.

Housing emerged as the greatest concern for the public.

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