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Research article2020Peer reviewed

Assessing economic consequences of improved animal welfare in Swedish cattle fattening operations using a stochastic partial budgeting approach

Ahmed, Haseeb; Alvasen, Karin; Berg, Charlotte; Hansson, Helena; Hultgren, Jan; Rocklinsberg, Helena; Emanuelson, Ulf


There is an increased concern among many stakeholders in society that livestock production systems provide a low-quality life to the animals and therefore advocate improved farm animal welfare (FAW). On the other hand, producers are concerned that stricter welfare regulations would decrease their profits and hence their competitiveness. Given the relevance of the debate surrounding FAW especially in Sweden, and the lack of studies related to the beef sector, this study examined the impact of changes in FAW practices on economic performance of Swedish beef fattening operations. We modelled a herd of 50 cattle of either beef or dairy breed reared for meat production to examine the impact of increased space allowance, including a corresponding decrease in herd size, and increased forage-to-concentrate (FC) ratio. We found that a 1-m(2)/animal increase in space allowance was associated with a decrease of 18.9 and 10.8% in short-run, per animal profits in beef and dairy breeds, respectively. Sensitivity analysis suggested that an increase in weight gain and short-run loss in herd size due to increased space allowance were the most important factors. We estimated that an increase in the FC ratio from 40:60 to 65:35 was associated with a reduction in per animal profits of about 21 to 34% in beef breeds and 17 to 53% in dairy breeds, respectively. Sensitivity analysis indicated that reduced growth due to increased FC ratio was the most important factor. Our results suggest that an increase in space allowance or FC ratio in Swedish beef fattening operations may reduce farm profitability. They also imply that consequences of any policy instrument should be carefully examined to reach the goal of improved FAW along with improved profitability and sustainability for the farmer.


Farm animal welfare; Profitability; Stochastic partial budget analysis; Beef production; Sweden

Published in

Livestock Science
2020, Volume: 232, article number: 103920Publisher: ELSEVIER