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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

High work satisfaction despite high workload among European organic mixed livestock farmers: a mixed-method approach

Schanz, Lisa; Oehen, Bernadette; Benoit, Marc; Bernes, Gun; Magne, Marie-Angelina; Martin, Guillaume; Winckler, Christoph


Organic mixed livestock farming offers a range of potential benefits for the environment. Due to the diversification of enterprises, this farming system can be associated with a high workload, which means that it could be socially unsustainable. The aim of this study was to understand and explain work satisfaction of farmers running an organic mixed livestock farm. Using a mixed-method approach, quantitative and qualitative data were collected from 102 farmers in seven European countries during face-to-face interviews. We showed for the first time that across Europe and different animal species and category combinations, organic mixed livestock farms can provide a high work satisfaction, despite a high workload. By using a mixed-method approach and a clear framework, we aimed at better understanding work satisfaction. Underlying reasons for work satisfaction included the diversity of tasks, opportunities to learn, autonomy in the work schedule, perceived acknowledgement by consumers, and the contribution to sustainable food production. Factors contributing to work satisfaction identified in the analysis of quantitative data included workload, number of livestock units, mental complexity, proportion of work peaks per year, and the match between wanted free time and time taken off work. The combination of qualitative and quantitative data allowed a deeper understanding of farmers’ work satisfaction and revealed consistent findings. Future research should investigate the relationship between farmers’ work satisfaction and capacity for innovation, flexibility, and adaptation potential.


Organic farming; Multi-species; Well-being; Job satisfaction; Mental health

Published in

Agronomy for Sustainable Development
2023, volume: 43, number: 1, article number: 4

Authors' information

Schanz, Lisa
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU)
Oehen, Bernadette
Benoit, Marc
Univ Clermont Auvergne
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden
Magne, Marie-Angelina
Univ Toulouse
Martin, Guillaume
Univ Toulouse
Winckler, Christoph
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU)

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Occupational Health and Safety

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