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Social Lab I

Social Lab - Farm animal husbandry in the mirror of society

Livestock farming has been in a field of tension between different interests for years. On the one hand there are citizens and consumers and on the other hand there are farmers. In between are, among others, interest groups and trade. To reduce this area of conflict is the goal of the SocialLab project.

While consumers have hardly any connection to livestock farming, the media blames them for the poor conditions there when they buy meat at low prices. The conditions of animal husbandry suggested by the packaging are often far removed from reality, as demonstrated by impressive contrasting television reports and newspaper articles.

For many farmers, however, the situation is as follows: Although they keep to legal defaults and put much heart blood into their occupation, they are accused frequently overall cruelty to animals. They have to justify themselves for the fact that they want to feed their family with the help of their profession and also want to make a profit. Changes in animal husbandry are increasingly difficult for them due to the strong price competition in the market.

The longer people think about livestock farming and its players, such as farmers, consumers, trade and interest groups, the more questions arise: Why is poultry farming seen so much more critically than dairy farming? Why is one type of husbandry system accepted, while another, which is equivalent or even better from a farm animal science point of view, is categorically rejected? And what business management, information management or group dynamics aspects must be taken into account on the part of farmers if new standards are to be introduced?

Due to the many actors involved, each with heterogeneous requirements, it is necessary to consider the entire system.  To improve the situation as a whole, it is necessary to balance as many fields of interest as possible. This is where the project "SocialLab - Farm animal husbandry in the mirror of society" comes in: The aim is to examine social criticism in a differentiated manner and to identify ways to improve livestock farming from the perspective of the above-mentioned social groups. The results should help to align the activities of market participants as well as the shaping measures of politics in such a way that tensions between the various actors are noticeably reduced.

They want to use innovative neuroeconomic methods to identify individual decision patterns that are behaviorally effective in this context. Within the framework of the corresponding subproject, which is funded with about 560,000 €, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is used in addition to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). With the help of these, new insights into the individual process of acceptance of necessary innovations in the field of livestock farming will be gained. Based on this, appropriate design measures are then to be derived in order to successfully establish more sustainable concepts in this area as well.

According to: agricultural newspaper from 28.07.2015

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