New poll: clear majority of Italians say no to sow cages

Elisa Bianco
Responsabile corporate engagement

Italian citizens still know little about the living conditions of sows on farms, but the vast majority of people are against the confinement of these animals in cages and are willing to pay more to support the transition, say data from a new YouGov poll.

Italian citizens are clearly against the use of cages for sows and are willing to pay more for products that meet higher standards. They are even more so when transparent information is provided on rearing with or without cages. These are the main results of the poll we commissioned from YouGov to find out how Italians feel about the practice of keeping sows in cages.

Despite the fact that European legislation is one of the most advanced on animal welfare, sows can still spend almost half of their lives in cages: the first month of pregnancy and the entire farrowing and lactation period. The survey data show that there is little knowledge on this issue: less than one in four people are aware that sows can be kept in cages.

However, the position of most respondents is clear: almost 65% consider the use of sow cages unacceptable, either in all products or at least in PDO products. Only about 9% are in favour of this system, while a significant percentage of people do not feel ready to express an opinion on the matter (more than 25%).

© Essere Animali

The effects of transparent information

Analysing this data in more detail, important differences can be observed depending on whether or not people are correctly informed about what cage rearing means in practice. In fact, the sample was split in half and only one group was shown example photos of indoor cage and non-cage rearing. The answers of the two groups were then analysed separately to assess whether receiving clear information had an effect on the predisposition towards this topic.

And the differences are indeed there. In the group that saw the photos, the percentage of people who consider cages to be unacceptable increased significantly (74% vs. 64%) and, above all, the percentage of those who cannot answer decreased (18% vs. 26%). This indicates that, if properly informed, people are more motivated to take a position on the subject of sow cages, and are more likely to be against them.

Another effect of proper information is to increase the willingness to pay for products from non-caged farms. In the group that saw the pictures of caged and non-caged sows, the willingness to pay more increases significantly with 63% of people willing to pay at least 33% more (compared to 57% of those who did not see the pictures) and almost one in three willing to pay more than 60% more (compared to 23%). Moreover, according to the data collected, the interest in supporting non-caged sow breeding is also present in the less affluent segments of the population, a point that cannot be ignored when defining development plans for the future.

© Essere Animali

What does this survey show us?

The survey shows us that having clear and accessible information is a key factor in the way people relate to animal suffering. This demonstrates the importance of our investigation and outreach work: showing the images of what happens inside Italy’s intensive livestock farms is a fundamental part of what we do, raises awareness among millions of people and shows the need for urgent change, to put an immediate end to the cruellest farming practices.