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Feedstuffs reports:

A growing number of consumers are using animal protection organizations as their primary source of information about livestock and poultry welfare, according to a survey by Purdue University researchers.

Published in the Journal of Animal Science the Purdue University work finds that groups affiliated with the animal agriculture industry are less used sources of public information on animal welfare.

"Improved understanding of the factors that contribute to consumers' evolving perceptions of the care and welfare of farm animals is an essential step toward enhanced sustainability and social responsibility in contemporary food production systems," the researchers said.

The researchers conducted an online survey of 798 U.S. households to investigate relationships between household demographics, geographic location and experiences and level of concern for animal welfare as well as sources used to obtain information on the subject.

Respondents were also asked about their perceptions of pig management practices and welfare issues and their corresponding pork purchasing habits. It was found that 14% of those surveyed reduced pork consumption because of animal welfare concerns.

Consumers reporting higher levels of concern about animal welfare more frequently identified themselves as female, younger and members of the Democratic Party.

Over half of the respondents (56%) said they did not have a primary source for animal welfare information. Of those who did, the most commonly used sources were animal protection groups, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Consumers in the Midwest were significantly less concerned about domestic livestock animal welfare, at only 5%, and more frequently reported not having a source for animal welfare information than those from other regions of the U.S.

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