Animal welfare policies deal with complex issues involving and resulting from, animal management in highly modified environments. How people consider and respond to animal welfare issues is value laden, constrained by the social norms of their peer-groups and influenced by conflicting scientific and popular opinions. In some cases, achieving a consensus about what constitutes the most socially desirable course of action to follow will simply not be possible. Instead, socially-resilient policies forged from mutual respect and understanding may be possible by bringing together the different world views of the conflicting parties in a planning model that enables them each to contribute transparently towards policy formulation. The 4-windows strategy for animal welfare policy formulation described in this paper, when applied to a farming practice of concern, such as lamb castration, can assist an agency like the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee to address the concerns of social groups outside of traditional scientific thinking and enable them to contribute to the policy process more fully. However, the 4-windows strategy may be more difficult when there is a lack of reliable information about the values and expectations of some social groups. Overall, this approach has implications for the way in which livestock farming in New Zealand may be influenced in the future by current social trends.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 68, Brisbane, Australia, 158-161, 2008
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