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Animals (Basel). 2019 Apr 26;9(5). pii: E198. doi: 10.3390/ani9050198.

Towards the Abandonment of Surgical Castration in Pigs: How is Immunocastration Perceived by Italian Consumers?

Author information

1
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Teramo, 64100 Piano D'Accio, Teramo, Italy. jdipasquale@unite.it.
2
Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, Via Tolara di Sopra 50, 40064 Ozzano Emilia (BO), Italy. eleonora.nannoni2@unibo.it.
3
Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, Via Tolara di Sopra 50, 40064 Ozzano Emilia (BO), Italy. luca.sardi@unibo.it.
4
Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, Via Tolara di Sopra 50, 40064 Ozzano Emilia (BO), Italy. giulia.rubini8@unibo.it.
5
Department of Economics and Law, University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, Viale dell'Università, 03043 Cassino (FR), Italy. rsalvatore@unicas.it.
6
Department of Economics and Law, University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, Viale dell'Università, 03043 Cassino (FR), Italy. bartoli@unicas.it.
7
Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, Via Tolara di Sopra 50, 40064 Ozzano Emilia (BO), Italy. felice.adinolfi@unibo.it.
8
Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, Via Tolara di Sopra 50, 40064 Ozzano Emilia (BO), Italy. giovanna.martelli@unibo.it.

Abstract

Immunocastration of pigs represents an alternative method to surgical castration, being more respectful of animal welfare. However, this new technology may not be accepted by consumers due to their perception of possible risks tied to the use of the product, thus representing a concern for the production sector. The study aimed at verifying the attitude of Italian consumers towards immunocastration and to assess whether their perception can be affected by science-based information on advantages and disadvantages of immunocastration. A total of 969 consumers (divided in three groups representative of the Italian population) were contacted and asked to complete an online questionnaire. Only technical (neutral) information on immunocastration was provided to the first group; the second and the third group received information on the advantages (+) and disadvantages (-) of the technique, shown in reverse order (+/- and -/+, respectively). The level of information did not affect consumers' perception of immunocastration. Overall, immunocastration is perceived in a predominantly positive manner (54.5%), with a relatively low level of risk perception (34.2%), and a good willingness to pay more for meat deriving from immunocastrated pigs (+18.7%).

KEYWORDS:

animal welfare; castration; consumer; immunocastration; information; pig; survey; willingness to pay

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