Understanding animal-human relations in interconnected scientific and farming practices: the case of group housing of sows in the EU

Michaël De Krom

    Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan congresC3: Congres - Meeting abstractpeer review


    According to Council Directive 2008/120/EC on the protection of pigs, EU pig holdings with ten sows or more may as of 1January 2013 no longer keep sows and gilts in individual stalls. Instead, these animals must be kept in groups from four weeks after insemination until one week before the expected time of farrowing. Like other European animal welfare policies, this EU requirement is principally legitimated on the basis of animal scientific evidence: sows prefer to move and socially interact with other pigs when given the freedom to do so. As such, the requirement primarily aims to improve pig welfare by meeting needs for animal-animal contacts. At the same time, however, it also alters animal-stockperson relations, which are known to influence on-farm animal welfare to an important degree. This raises the question to what extent and how animal-stockperson interactions can and are informing animal science, and animal welfare policy. This paper aims to contribute to the understanding of relations between animal welfare science, which is typically oriented at producing ‘objective' and transferable findings, and farming ractices in which the ‘subjectivity’ and practical knowledge of stockpersons play an important role in determining animal welfare levels. Based on qualitative interviews with scientists who have studied welfare effects of group-housing sows, the paper explores how animal-human relations co-constituted definitions and enactments of sow welfare in animal scientific practice. Subsequently, the paper analyses on the basis of qualitative interviews with pig farmers who have recently implemented group housing, and of observations of these farmers’ interactions with their group-housed sows, how everyday sow-farmer interactions have been altered since the conversion to group housing. The paper uses social practice theory (Reckwitz 2002; Shatzki 2002; Shove et al.2012) in these analyses to determine how animal-human relations are mediated within scientific and farming practice-specific patterns of embodied competences, repertoires of background and motivational knowledge,!and technological complexes. The paper concludes by reflecting on the extent to which scientists’ and farmers’ situated experiences and constructions of animal welfare differ; on the ways in which these differences are (counter)productive for enhancing farm animal welfare; and on how counterproductive differences could be addressed.
    Oorspronkelijke taalEngels
    Aantal pagina’s1
    PublicatiestatusGepubliceerd - 2013
    Evenement25th European Society of Rural Sociology (ESRS) Congress - Florence, Italië
    Duur: 29-jul.-20131-aug.-2013


    Congres25th European Society of Rural Sociology (ESRS) Congress


    Bekijk de onderzoeksthema's van 'Understanding animal-human relations in interconnected scientific and farming practices: the case of group housing of sows in the EU'. Samen vormen ze een unieke vingerafdruk.

    Dit citeren