Farmers’ views on the impact of breeding traits on profitability, animal welfare and environment

Last changed: 29 September 2013

Wallenbeck, A.a, Ahlman, T.a, Rydhmer, L.a and Röcklinsberg, H.b

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, aDepartment of Animal Breeding and Genetics Box 7023, 750 07 Uppsala, Sweden, bDepartment of Animal Environment and Health Box 7068, 750 07 Uppsala, Sweden


Taking the growing consumer and citizen interest in animal welfare and the environment into account, a closer look at the production animals used and their genetic potential is necessary.  Development of long term sustainable animal production systems need to involve breeding goals. The farmers’ views on different traits are fundamental for the understanding of how to balance competing breeding goals. The aim of this web questionnaire study was to investigate pig and dairy farmers’ views on a range of breeding traits in relation to farm profitability, animal welfare and environmental impact of production.

The results show similar patterns for pig and dairy farmers. Most farmers (> 80 %) considered all given traits to be related to profitability. Fewer traits were regarded important for animal welfare, expressed as longevity, health and roughage consumption. Even fewer traits were considered to have an impact on the environment; all of them were related to production, feed conversion, roughage consumption or survival/longevity. Furthermore, no differences of importance were seen between farmers with conventional and organic production. Longevity, disease resistance and roughage consumption seem to be considered as key traits with impact on both animal welfare and environment by both dairy and pig farmers.

Consumers’ and citizens’ interest and concerns about animal welfare and environment seem to be shared by farmers. However results show that key traits considered to influence both animal welfare and environment were parallel to profitability.