Animal welfare


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Animal welfare ends and means
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vi, 90 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Cryan, Roger
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Animal welfare   ( lcsh )
Animal rights   ( lcsh )
Food and Resource Economics thesis, Ph.D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Food and Resource Economics -- UF   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 1997.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 85-90).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Roger Cryan.
General Note:
General Note:

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University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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aleph - 028624878
oclc - 39526303
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This work is dedicated to my daughter, Elli, and my wife, Rene, without either

of whom it likely would not have been completed.


I thank the members of my degree committee variously for their intellectual,

personal, and, not least importantly, financial support through the long journey from start

to finish. Additional thanks are due to Michael Olexa, Conrado Gempesaw, Richard D.

Reynnells, and numerous other parties for their interest in, and contributions to, my


I also acknowledge the lack of cooperation from others whose vertebral fortitude

was inadequate to participation in such "daring" work.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................................. iii

ABSTRACT .......... ....... ............ ............... vii


1 INTRODUCTION ........................
Problem Statement ........................
Research Objectives . .............

The Academic Mainstream ...................
Animal Welfare and Human Ends ...............

The Movement ..... ........... ..........
Public Opinion ............ ...........
Democratic Processes ......... .............
Animal Welfare: A Public Choice ...............

. . 1
. . 2
. . 4

. . 6
. . 6
. . 16

. . 19
......... 20
......... 23
. . 26
. . 31

The Maryland Broiler Industry .........................
Potential Restrictions ................................

DEFINING MEANS ........................
Defining Welfare ......... ............. ........
Welfare and Production ........ .................
Welfare Maximization .............................
Firm Profit Maximization .......... ................
Constrained Firm Profit Maximization ...................
Contract Broiler Optimization .......... .............
Constrained Contract Broiler Optimization .................

D ata .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... ..

S 45
S 50
S 51
S 52
S 54
S 58

M odel .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
Constraints ............................
Results .. .. ... .. .. .. .. .. .. .
Grower Impacts .........................
Regional Economic Impacts ..................
Animal Welfare Impacts ....................
Additional Considerations ...................

.......... 62
...... .... 65
........ 65
.......... 70
.......... 70
. .. .. .. 75
. ......... 77

7 CONCLUSIONS ................................
Philosophy ................ ......................
Social and Political Processes ...........................
Economic Theory ... ................................
Results and Suggestions for Further Research .................
Conclusions .....................................

REFERENCES ... ....................................

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Roger Cryan

December 1997

Chairman: Dr. Thomas Spreen
Major Department: Department of Food and Resource Economics

The social side of the animal welfare debate has been inadequately informed by

economic science. This work examines the philosophical debate over animal welfare and

proposes an alternative approach. It examines the prospects of the animal welfare/rights

movement in the context of public choice theory. An economic theory of animal welfare

is developed. Finally, a case study is used to demonstrate one methodology for

estimating the direct human costs of animal welfare restrictions.


Economics is the science which studies human behaviour as a relationship
between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses. Lionel
Robbins, 1935, p.16

A December 1995 Associated Press poll highlights the changing attitudes of the

American people toward animals. In addition to the growth of existing majorities

opposed to "indiscriminate" animal testing and killing animals for fur, new majorities

now consider sport hunting to be "always wrong" and agree with the idea that "an

animal's right to live free of suffering should be just as important as a person's right to

live free of suffering." (Gainesville Sun, December 3, 1995, p. 3A) Such an expressed

public philosophy has significant implications for both the producers and consumers of

farm animals. If these views continue to become more common among a population

alienated from the production of its food, government animal welfare policies could

change the way of life of millions of American producers and consumers of animal


Since the relationship of means to ends is the subject of economic science,

agricultural economists are behooved to consider the animal welfare ends desired by both

the 'movement' and the public, and, in turn, to evaluate the rational means to those ends,

whatever they may be.


The aims of the animal welfare and animal rights movement have been closely

associated with the academic philosophical debate over animals' status in human society.

These aims are examined in this work to discern any purposive and consistent ends that

they might contain.

Whether, when, and how public sentiment will be translated into direct

government action will have economic implications for agriculture and the consuming

public. Inevitably, the perceived benefits of animal welfare measures will be weighed,

however imperfectly, against human costs. To that end, specific economic impacts

should be investigated, so that any restrictive measures taken on behalf of animals may

be based upon a balanced prior consideration. This research proposes one theoretical

basis for the economic consideration of animal welfare, based upon productivity as a

measure of welfare. Further, it attempts to establish one methodology for such economic

consideration through an examination of the impact of hypothetical animal welfare

restrictions on contract broiler production in the state of Maryland.

Problem Statement

The upsurge of popular concern for animal welfare and of animal rights activism

has led a wide variety of groups to make a wider variety of demands on agriculture.

These demands have progressively included curbs on particularly intensive forms of

animal production, a ban on all animal products and animal agriculture, and, finally, legal

protection for animals comparable with that provided humans. The ultimate success of

these groups, if that success results in effective constraints upon agricultural practices,


would have considerable economic consequences for those engaged in the production of

animals and animal products.

In many ways the debate over farm animal welfare lacks a substantive

philosophical context. Concern for animals generally has been expressed, even by

professional philosophers, in emotional terms on intuitive premises. A sound

philosophical foundation for this conversation is needed to frame the policy questions and

define our real concerns about animals.

A substantive economic context is still more sorely lacking. Economic science

takes human values as given and demands of the "rational" economic agent only that his

preferences are "consistent" and "purposive". (Robbins 1935, pp. 90-93) Once the aims

of a philosophy have been translated into such a consistent and purposive expression of

desired ends, economic analysis allows useful evaluation of the required means.

However, society must decide among ends and means, as a whole and as

individuals, on the basis of available information. The role of economics and social

science is to inform the decision, not to make it. Once the consistent and purposive ends

pursued by our society with regard to animals have been clearly identified, an economic

context can be developed to evaluate means to those decided ends. This research is an

economist's attempt to begin both the identification of ends and the evaluation of means,

with respect to the issue of animal welfare.

Research Objectives

Animal welfare, for the most part, has been examined superficially by social

scientists familiar with agriculture (Guithier and Van Buer 1991; Simpson and Rollin

1984). If it is one role of agricultural economics to assess the interaction of the farm

sector with society at large, the field can have a useful place in the now disjointed debate

over the status of farm animals, from which the agricultural establishment has been

largely excluded (or from which it has excluded itself), despite its enormous stake in the


A discussion of this issue and the suggestion of an economic methodology to

explore the human costs of the pursuit of welfare for animals are the purposes of this


The philosophical discussion upon which much of the animal welfare debate has

been based is explored. This burgeoning literature is re-examined and a new basis for

the consideration of the status of animals is suggested which makes clear the soundness

of weighing animal welfare in light of its cost to humans.

The animal welfare movement is described. Its potential for success and a

practical definition of the animal welfare issue are considered in the context of public

choice theory and the political processes involved. Constitutional issues suggest the

means by which an animal welfare agenda could most easily be translated into law, and

demographic considerations may indicate jurisdictions in which such laws would be most



An economic theory of animal welfare is developed, based upon the ordering of

animal welfare by productivity per animal. A neo-classical production framework is used

to consider the theoretical impact of welfare restrictions on "welfare", production, and


A case study is used to demonstrate a methodology for the analysis of the farm-

level impacts of hypothetical but plausible animal welfare restrictions on broiler producers

in the state of Maryland. After a review of broiler production, and Maryland's industry

in particular, a representative farm is modelled to estimate the firm-level economic impact

over time of potential animal welfare restrictions. Such results are used to draw

conclusions regarding impacts on supply and profitability, as well as the multiplied effect

on the local and state economies of changes in industry sales.


Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and
increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall
upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every
creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea;
they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be
food for you. Just as I have given you the green plants, I now give you
everything. Genesis 9:1-3

Animal agriculture traditionally has been based upon an acceptance of the priority

of human interests within the natural world, including the belief that human interests

should rule human actions. Another, increasingly common, view of the role of animals

in human society would place the 'intrinsic' interests of animals, and even plants and

natural systems, on a comparable footing with human interests, leading its advocates to

an ethical conclusion that man must yield some part of his interest to the rest of the

natural world. Effecting such an ethic would have considerable human costs, and begs

innumerable questions about methods and results.

From a philosophical standpoint, the animal welfare issue is both fascinating and

useful, since it demands a fundamental consideration of the ends of morality. Man's

moral relationship to animal can only be clarified in the context of man's moral

relationship to man.' The current conventional philosophical arguments for animal

SThe author begs that the reader excuse the politically incorrect but traditional use
of 'man' when referring generally to the human race as a preferable alternative to the



welfare and animal rights start from a weakly defined position with an under-developed


The Academic Mainstream

More importantly for this research, defining the philosophies driving the demands of the

animal welfare and rights movement is vital to framing the economic question; without

understanding the ends pursued, one cannot adequately evaluate the means necessary to

those ends.

The most influential writers on the topic have been Peter Singer, who demands

improved conditions for farm and other animals on the basis of 'equal consideration' in

an utilitarian system, and Tom Regan, who argues that animals are entitled to rights

which are comparable or identical to those of humans. These two writers have largely

set the philosophical terms of the broader debate about animals' moral status in human

society; this can be seen in the extensive critical literature devoted to the slight difference

between the routes each takes to reach the same practical conclusions. (Thompson and

Curtis 1994)

Peter Singer argues that animals are entitled to equal consideration with humans

on the basis of their physical capacity to suffer and the lack of an intrinsic distinction

between humans and animals. This argument for our equal consideration of animals rests

upon three premises. First, suffering is intrinsically evil; second, animal suffering is

morally indistinguishable from our own; and third, because suffering is evil, human

tiresome repetition of such phrases as 'man and woman' or 'human beings.'


society is obliged to minimize it in all forms. If one accepts these premises as defining

necessary human ends, it is indeed a trivial conclusion that human society must give

consideration to the pain and pleasure of animals equal with that given to the pain and

pleasure of humans. (Singer 1989, 1990) Because they are taken as given by Dr. Singer,

each of these three premises must be questioned.

The first and third are the bases for utilitarian philosophies generally. Utilitarians

hold that society should maximize the sum of happiness across individuals. This requires

the feasibility of interpersonal comparisons of utility and denies the individual's unique

qualifications to pursue his own ends. That such comparisons have no scientific

legitimacy is a tenet of economic science. (Robbins 1935; Hicks 1946; Gardner 1995,

p.19) The valuations necessary for a utilitarian balancing of ends would therefore be so

arbitrary as to deny the efficiency of liberty without effecting a scientifically justifiable

'utility' maximization. This is rather more a conclusion of economic science than an

argument of philosophy, but serves both purposes.

This standard criticism of utilitarianism as an economic philosophy becomes

clearer when applied to Dr. Singer's formulation of measurable comparability of utility

among species. In fact, he believes that society can determine the amount of pain or

pleasure a particular practice causes a farm animal, directly compare that to the pain or

pleasure which thereby accrues to humans, and dictate whether that practice shall

continue. (Singer 1989) The pursuit of such a weighted utility objective by an utilitarian

state depends upon the arbitrary criteria by which that state measures the individual

happiness of each man and each beast. On the basis of what others claim will produce


the greatest happiness for non-human animals, man is denied the opportunity to pursue

his own interest. Utilitarianism cannot provide an objective basis for social order among

men; and it certainly cannot among species.

Dr. Singer's second premise links man's interest to that of animals by denying any

fundamental intrinsic difference between men and animals that could provide any moral

basis for disregarding the interests of animals. (Singer 1990, p.237)2 In effect, he adopts

the position of eighteenth century utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham that the basis

for utilitarian consideration "is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they

suffer?"(p.7) That is, he identifies all suffering and decides on that basis that animals are

entitled to equal consideration with humans. Human unwillingness to grant that

consideration is therefore a form of bigotry Dr. Singer calls, after Richard Ryder,

'speciesism.'(Singer 1989; Ryder 1972)

Like Dr. Singer, Tom Regan (1982) denies man's right to make a moral

distinction between humans and animals based on the absence of an intrinsic difference

between humans and animals, further arguing that animals are entitled to whatever legal

and human rights that they are capable of enjoying. Dr. Regan asserts each animal's

right to pursue its own interests as the subject of a life on the basis of its ability to 'value'

those interests, an assertion for which he draws explicitly from Dr. Singer's arguments

for animals' capacity to suffer. This leads to his claim for animals' equal consideration

and independent legal standing in human society.

2 In this, Dr. Singer is 'lifting himself by his boot straps', since his rejection of
traditional moral theory relies upon that theory for its foundation.


He differs from Dr. Singer in denying, based on criticisms of utilitarian theory

similar to those above, that each human's obligation is to maximize the aggregate utility

of all creatures. He questions the necessarily centralized utilitarian program and finds it

lacking. The authoritarian control demanded by any system of direct utilitarianism would

be susceptible to the abuses which arise from all arbitrary authority. "Indeed, I believe

that only if we postulate human rights can we provide a theory that adequately guards

humans against the abuses that utilitarianism might permit." (Regan, p.90) This

statement, by acknowledging that the origin and justification for a system of rights lies

in its functional, rather than intrinsic, properties, provides the basis, not only for his

refutation of Dr. Singer's animal utilitarianism, but also for a refutation of Dr. Regan's

animal rights theory, which is based upon the 'inherent' value of all feeling animals and

their interests. (1982, p.71)

If the Regan approach is more theoretically coherent in light of the impossibility

of interpersonal or interspecial utility comparison and allocation, it still finds itself on the

slippery slope of attempting to define the line 'below' which species do not possess some

or all rights. Dr. Regan's theory requires that the same judgement be made upon some

non-human species which he calls immoral when passed upon all non-human species; a

rights framework must fall apart unless a line is drawn between those beings which do

have rights and those that do not.

Dr. Regan neither questions nor defends the fundamental basis of the morality

which, he believes, demands that we consider animal's rights the same as our own, but

takes it on faith. He begins with the unsupported belief that animals are entitled to


equality with humans, and "postulates" a theory of animal rights to support this belief,

in the same way that a theory of human rights has been postulated to support the more

consistent ends of human protection from arbitrary authority. (Regan 1982, p. 90)

Libertarian political philosopher Robert Nozick has argued that animals must have

equal consideration on the basis of a similar and similarly presupposed moral theory,

according to which he finds no 'moral' basis for differentiating man from other species.

He makes an analogy to human enslavement by 'superior' space aliens in support of his

argument: if we would consider such an enslavement 'immoral,' we should so consider

our enslavement of animals. This argument, however, appeals to our self-interest; we

would perceive a violation of our well-being in an alien enslavement rather than an

immoral act. This concern for our own well-being, in fact, must be an important

consideration, if not the original basis for any moral theory, just as it provides the basis

for economic science.

Professor Nozick recognizes the gap left in his work (and the work of Drs. Singer

and Regan) by the absence of an explanation for his moral theory. "The completely

accurate statement of the moral background, including the precise statement of the moral

theory and its underlying basis, would require a full-scale presentation and is a task for

another time.... That task is so crucial, the gap left without its accomplishment so

yawning, that it is only a minor comfort to note that we here are following the

respectable tradition of Locke, who does not provide anything remotely resembling a

satisfactory explanation of the status and basis of the law of nature in his Second


Treatise." (p. 9)3 Nevertheless, like Drs. Singer and Regan, he puts his philosophical

cart before the horse and 'postulates' a journey. That he admits the gap does, however,

lead to a more profitable line of reasoning.

Professors Regan, Singer, and Nozick define animals as morally indistinguishable

from men, but can only define morality itself on an intuitive basis. They rest what they

claim to be a rational, even a scientific, framework upon a traditional foundation which

they then deny. They fail to define consistent and purposive ends when they presuppose

a moral theory without the benefit of a rational explanation (or divine inspiration), and

this failure makes the pursuit of their ends inconsistent and, so, infeasible. Indeed,

biological science has generated a consistent and feasible philosophical ordering,

grounded in evolution.

Many animal advocates cite the work of Charles Darwin as knocking out the

foundations of 'speciesism.' (Singer 1990, pp.209-212) Professor Darwin did, indeed,

redefine man's self-image by demonstrating his close natural relation to the other species;

but perhaps more relevant to our inquiry is his theory of man's moral development.

The acceptance of evolution has led to the collapse of the 'intrinsic value' basis

of man's self-centered world-view; but Professor Darwin himself begat a new theory of

morality based upon evolution that defines even more clearly the functional separation of

man from other species. In The Descent of Man, Professor Darwin presented a theory of

man's morality as the product of evolution. Man's 'moral sense' was promoted "through

3 John Locke did, however, have the comfortable support of a Biblical moral theory
that few in his time dared openly question.


natural selection: for those communities, which included the greatest number of the most

sympathetic members would flourish best and rear the greatest number of offspring."

(p.82) The seeds of a new ethical philosophy were planted when he suggests that "it

would be advisable, if found practible, take as the test of morality, the general good

or welfare of the community, rather than the general happiness; but this definition would

perhaps require some limitation on account of political ethics."(p. 98) Thus, he

recognizes that good and evil can be seen strictly as what is good or bad for the physical

survival of the community, including both selfish and selfless acts.'

This is key to the Darwinian revolution in moral philosophy. A rethinking of

basic moral theory by such philosophers as Thomas Huxley, Herbert Spencer, Friedrich

Nietzsche, and William Graham Sumner (who coined the term 'social Darwinist') denied

traditional morality for its lack of a rational foundation, and was based instead in man's

brute origins. (Mencken 1908, Sumner 1885, Spencer 1879, Huxley 1911) Human

morality, according to this view, is only justified and can only persist insofar as it

promotes some basic, generally physical, 'good' of the human species.

Modern socio-biology uses the theory of genetic selection, based upon the

assertion "that the fundamental unit of selection, and therefore of self-interest, is not the

species, or the group, nor even, strictly, the individual. It is the gene, the unit of

heredity." (Dawkins 1989, p. 11) Richard Dawkins, though "not advocating a morality

based on evolution", does a very good job of describing such a morality. (p. 2) One

Nevertheless, man's morality is limited and "his actions are largely determined by
the expressed wishes and judgement of his fellow-man, and unfortunately still oftener,
by his own strong, selfish desires." (p.86)


implication of our being 'bred' by the survival of individual genes is that we are more

accurately seen as 'vehicles' for the selection of genes than the direct subjects of

evolution. Another implication, more to the point here, is that such Darwinian concepts

as 'group selection' and behavior bred for the good of the species as a whole are

qualified, and individuals' bald self-interest is tempered only by traits and behavior

beneficial to genetically close relatives and, significantly, by more subtle self-interest of

the kind which typifies much human interaction. (Dawkins 1989)

Natural law, then, if it can be said to exist, are only those positive physical

circumstances which drive man's struggle for existence, the 'law of the jungle.' Under

this law, there is no right and wrong, except what is good and bad for the species (or the

relevant gene). Such human institutions as government, morality, law, and markets

evolve and survive in order to serve human purposes. If they do not, they cannot be

reasonably defended and they cannot survive in evolutionary competition with institutions

which do. Here is a concrete end, defined functionally and functionally sustainable.

Morality toward animals, according to Professor Darwin, is essentially a stochastic

by-product of a functional sympathy toward a growing circle of humans. "Sympathy

beyond the confines of man, that is humanity to the lower animals, seems to be one of

the latest moral acquisitions.... This virtue, one of the noblest with which man is

endowed, seems to arise incidentally from our sympathies becoming more and more

tender and more widely diffused, until they are extended to all sentient beings. "(p. 101)

The rationality of this sympathy, Professor Darwin's sentiments about its nobility aside,

may be judged by the standard he suggested earlier, that of 'the general good of the


community.' Since morality is based on man's historical competition with other species,

there exists no rationally definable 'natural' basis for the inclusion of animals a priori and

for their own sake.

Rational morality, to meet its human ends, must be concerned with functional, not

'intrinsic' values. Human institutions are valued for their functions and depend upon the

reciprocity implicit in the social contract; the inclusion of all humans in this contract

("government of the people, by the people, and for the people") serves a functional

human purpose.

The inclusion of animals on a comparable basis, on the other hand, will not serve

the same purpose, since animals cannot be expected to reciprocate morally. In order to

be functionally sustainable, evolutionarily or socially, the degree of animals' inclusion

in human society must based on some human purpose. Jan Narveson (1989) argues on

this basis for the exclusion of animals from the social contract. At least as important is

the other half of the argument, that all humans must be included in the social contract in

order to guarantee against the arbitrary exclusion of any. It is the clear line between our

own species and the rest that provides the only consistent functional definition of full

members of society. To use Dr. Regan's word, a system of rights must be postulated

extending to all humans and only humans in order to provide a moral theory that will

functionally guarantee human interests. The clear and natural boundary between man and

all other species is the only solid footing on the slippery slope of exclusion. It is

functionally necessary to make that distinction, for the good of the human species; and

the good of the species, according to Professor Darwin, is the mandate of nature.


Morality is a practical tool. Collectively, humans are moral because morality has

promoted human interests. This means that we can and should protect animals if we

prefer to do so, but only because it is what we, as a species or as individuals, prefer.

This is not to argue against animal welfare measures; it is simply to say that the

sovereignty of man is an established fact, and that man may and will, in his own interest

and according to the laws of nature, do whatsoever he decides is in his own perceived

interest, as does every other species in its own way.

Animal Welfare and Human Ends

In fact, man serves his own purpose by promoting the welfare of animals in many


The 'management ethic' offers the most rational positive argument for animal and

environmental protection, but does not justify rights or equal consideration for animals.

(Singer 1990) The preservation of the ecosystem as part of such an ethic provides direct

benefits to animals which have indirect benefits to humans.

A certain degree of animal welfare coincides also with profitable farming,

although profit maximization clearly does not produce animal welfare maximization, as

will be shown in a later section of this work.

Aesthetic values also seem to have a large role in our moral sentiments toward

animals. We view the extermination of rats differently from the death of a baby seal

largely because their aesthetic impacts upon us are very different. On this basis the

protection of aesthetically 'valuable' animals becomes a consumption good. The priorities


we place on such goods are the product of unscientific human preferences and can only

be measured by the ways in which we reveal those preferences as a society.

Most would argue that a certain kindness to animals is necessary and necessarily

enforced in order to prevent the moral degradation we feel is attendant to cruelty for its

own sake. This is, again, a consumption choice, based on human ends. We might even

decide that the granting of such rights as are advocated by Drs. Singer and Regan is

necessary to the moral evolution of mankind; but if we do, it should be with the

understanding that we do it in our own perceived interest.

Animal welfare, then, may be an intermediate input to human welfare. It also

may be a direct human consumption good, like mountain vistas or flowers in the city

parks. As such it must be weighed against other goods, including milk and eggs, fishing

and hunting, meat, or fur. Restrictions on each of these goods for the sake of animal

welfare will have a direct cost in human satisfaction. This is the fundamental trade-off

upon which public policy regarding animals must be based.

This chapter is not written to condemn animals; it is merely an attempt to

reconsider animals' place in human society in the context of man's natural history, and

so to clarify the ends of animal welfare measures. The only rational (i.e. purposive and

consistent) basis for man's protection of animals is the direct and indirect benefits he

derives. Homo sapiens has thrived through its use of animals for food, protection,

clothing, traction, and transport. The health of his physical environment depends in large

measure upon the survival of many other species in a balance so complicated that man's

poor understanding of it suggests caution in its care. Clearly, there are many arguments


for animal protection for man's own sake; but these must be valued for what they are to

man, and not for what they are to other species.

In this context, it is appropriate to consider the benefits we wish to bestow upon

animals in light of the costs to human society. It is an indirect recognition of the

practical truth of this that many animal welfare appeals emphasize the slightness of the

sacrifice they claim is necessary to provide animals with welfare. (Singer 1990; Regan

1982; PETA 1995) Since such material factors are, ultimately, the criteria upon which

we will make these decisions, we should be more fully informed regarding them.


Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want,
and deserve to get it good and hard. H.L. Mencken, 1949 p.622

Our increasingly urbanized and suburbanized society provides fertile ground for

appeals to the anthropomorphic sentiment many feel toward such "animals" as Mickey

Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Lassie, and such "edible" characters developed to sell related animal

products as the tuna fish that wants to taste good, Elsie the Borden Dairy Cow, and even

the bull on the glue bottle or the cow on the box of gelatine.

The practical result of the animal welfare debate will be decided in public forums

by any of a variety of voting rules, including legislative choice, direct voting, and

boycott. These decisions will be made in the context of awareness raised by various

animal welfare and rights groups, and will be informed by philosophy and, hopefully,

economics. While the agricultural community tends to view animal welfare activists as

outside the political mainstream, many single-issue groups have come to dominate the

debate with respect to their issue' and, as the beforementioned AP poll indicates, a

For example, the promoters of Prohibition in the 1910's and the opponents of gun
control in recent years.


growing majority of Americans seem willing to accept greater restrictions on their or,

more particularly, on others' use of animals.2

The Movement

The "movement" for improved treatment of animals is generally divided between

the welfaristss' and 'rightists', along lines defined by Drs. Singer and Regan and is more

or less radical in its demands than these philosophers. The largest group on what may

be called the extreme end of the animal advocacy spectrum is People for the Ethical

Treatment of Animals (PETA), which attracts nearly $11 million in annual support and

spending as much as $13 million yearly for a program which relies heavily on Dr.

Regan's rights approach. (PETA 1996) The organization promotes vegetarianism and

condemns all animal farming. They attract attention to their position by such means as

the strategic placement of people dressed as animals protesting for their lives. During a

recent American tour by the Pope, for example, a pair of PETA supporters dressed as

a cow and a nun made the most visible protest in New York and Baltimore. (City Paper,

Oct. 12, 1995) Their position on animal agriculture is made clear in their on-line


...the factory farming system of modern agriculture strives to produce the most
meat, milk, and eggs as quickly and cheaply as possible, and in the smallest
amount of space possible.... Factory farming is an extremely cruel method of
raising animals, but because it is profitable, it will only increase. One way to stop
the abuses offactory farming is to support legislation that abolishes battery cages,
veal crates, and intensive-confinement systems. But the best way to save animals

2 This willingness to restrict the behavior of others is, of course, a hallmark of moral


from the misery of factory farming is to stop buying and eating meat, milk, and
eggs. Vegetarianism and veganism mean eating for life: yours and theirs.
-People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

This appeal has attracted the support of such visible celebrities as the B-52's

musical group, singers Chrissie Hynde and k.d. lang, actors Elliott Gould and Winona

Ryder, and cartoonist Berke Breathed, among others. (Thomas 1990) Such support

attracts attention, if nothing else.

Other organizations concern themselves exclusively with the welfare of farm

animals. The Human Farming Association claims 90,000 members and has an annual

budget of over $1 million, derived almost entirely from direct contributions. Their

activities focus primarily on their "National Veal Boycott," but also oppose the use of

bovine growth hormones in milk production, the use of anti-biotics in farm animals, or

any type of confinement animal production which might be described as "factory

farming." (Human Farming Association 1995)

The Farm Animal Reform Movement (F.A.R.M.), originators of the "Great

American Meatout," have designated Ghandi's birthday, October 2, as "World Farm

Animals Day" in order "to memorialize the suffering and destruction of billions of

innocent, feeling farm animals. The world-wide observances feature exhibits, memorial

services, marches, vigils, and civil disobedience." This groups has an annual budget of

over $125,000, used for the promotion of a meatless diet, including the distribution of

materials for use in the public schools. The group also uses veal as a focal point,

expanding its message to discourage the use of all farm animal products. (F.A.R.M.



Finally, United Poultry Concerns, dedicated to the "effort to establish more

humane treatment of poultry and a healthier lifestyle," collected over $80,000 in 1995.

Among their activities were protesting a Honda ad depicting a chicken unable to cross the

road fast enough to avoid a speedy Prelude; placing 25 large paid advertisements in

Washington's subway system decrying chickens' exclusion from legal animal welfare

protection; holding a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner in Frederick, Maryland, to publicize

the alternative to turkey; picketing the annual Maryland Gamefowl Breeders Association

Crabfeast to protest cockfighting; distributing 10,000 brochures against the ostrich and

emu trade; conducting mourning vigils for chickens; and providing poultry-friendly

teaching materials to science teachers. (United Poultry Concerns 1996)

In addition, many groups promoting a 'soft' animal welfare message in their fund-

raising, emphasizing protections for dogs and cats and curbs on use of lab animals for

cosmetics testing, in fact promote vegetarianism, veganismm' and severe restrictions on

animal agriculture in their other activities.

For example, the Humane Society of the United States has, since 1993, conducted

a "public-education initiative to heighten awareness of the impact our food choices have

on humans, animals, and the Earth." The Society "discourages people from buying food

produced by factory farms where animals are raised in completed confinement.... The

campaign promotes the 'three R's': refining the food you eat by purchasing only organic,

and humanely and sustainably obtainable products; reducing the consumption of animal

products; and replacing animal products with grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits."

(H.S.U.S. 1997) In a 1990 address, President John A. Hoyt of the H.S.U.S. explicitly


supported a campaign "targeting Frank Perdue, the symbol of the poultry industry... We

will relentlessly pressure Perdue to develop, promote, and implement systems that are

responsive to the birds behavioral and physical needs.... We have no doubt that the

Perdue campaign... will place farm animal welfare on the national agenda." (Hoyt 1990)

The H.S.U.S. has a staff of 115 in Washington and around the country. (Hoyt

1990) Their 1996 revenues were over $48 million. (HSUS 1996) In 1990, the Society

published a "Close-Up Report" on confinement agriculture. The report's conclusion

called for "humane sustainable agriculture" which "eschews intensive-confinement factory

systems,.. .rejectsdependence upon antibiotics, hormones, genetically engineered animals,

pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers," in order "to promote healthful and

humane conditions for farm animals." (HSUS 1990) In addition, the Society conducts

an annual National Farm Animal Awareness Week. (HSUS 1997.)

Even traditional Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, seen by most

Americans as mainstream and moderate, will almost inevitably come to be dominated,

as has the Humane Society of the United States, by the passionate and committed people

who have provided such vitality to the 'radical' animal rights groups.

Public Opinion

These organized groups dedicated to animal welfare represent several regions on

one end of a conceptual spectrum of views toward animal welfare. Their work influences

the distribution of the general population on this spectrum, and this distribution defines

the public choice regarding the status of animals in our democratic society.


Some of the positions along such a spectrum may be represented by the following

characterizations, beginning with the most animal-centered and ending with the most


Equal rights for animals.

Equal consideration of animal welfare.

Comparable rights for animals.

Comparable consideration of animal welfare.

Some consideration of animal welfare, all animals.

Some consideration of animal welfare, some animals.

Animals as means to human ends only.

There is considerable overlap among these broadly characterized philosophies, but

they may be ordered, as above, in a single dimension according to the sacrifices each

expects man to make for the sake of animals' well-being.

An Associated Press poll conducted November 10 through 14, 1995, may

adequately reflect American opinion of animal welfare and rights on more than one level.

The results are given below3:

Some people say an animal's right to live free of suffering should be just
as important as a person's right to live free of suffering. Would you say
38% Agree strongly
29% Agree somewhat
18% Disagree somewhat

SAttributed to Associated Press. "Source: AP national telephone poll of 1,004
adults taken Nov. 10-14 by ICR Survey Research Group of Media, Pa., part of AUS
Consultant. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3 percentage points, plus or
minus. Sum may not total 100 percent because of rounding. "Don't know" omitted."

12% Disagree strongly
Do you think there are circumstances where it's perfectly OK to kill an
animal for its fur or do you think it's...
59% ...always wrong
36% ...OK, in some circumstances
Do you think there are circumstances where it's perfectly OK to hunt an
animal for sport or do you think it's...
51% ...always wrong
47% ...OK, in some circumstances
Do you think the use of animals to test cosmetics is...
46% ...never right
21% ...seldom right
29% ...right under some circumstances
2% ...always right
Do you think the use of animals to test medical treatments is...
14% ...never right
15% ...seldom right
62% ...right under some circumstances
8% ...always right
How often do you eat meat, poultry, or fish?
2% Never
6% Rarely
21% Occasionally
71% Frequently
(Foster 1995)

The economist (and the philosopher) might note with particular interest the

answers to the first and last inquiries as an example of the contrast between stated and

expressed intentions. The abstract response differs greatly from the concrete. Similarly,

the expression of a public issue as a question of abstract principle, on the one hand, or

as a specific balancing between costs and benefits, on the other, will greatly affect the

issue's outcome.'

SOther polls have been commissioned by such groups as the American Farm Bureau
Federation, the American Veterinary Association, and the Animal Industries Foundation.
An attempt was made to acquire and examine the results of these polls for the final
dissertation, but communication with each of these groups revealed an inability or


Assuming the respondents to the Associated Press poll cited above to be both

truthful and representative of the American electorate, the median voter eats meat, poultry

or fish frequently; thinks that it is always wrong to kill an animal for its fur; thinks that

animal testing of medical treatments are right under some circumstances, but that animal

testing of cosmetics is seldom right; believes that hunting is always wrong; and agrees

somewhat with the proposition that "an animal's right to live free of suffering should be

just as important as a person's right to live free of suffering." (Foster 1995)

These results are consistent with a concern for animals, conditioned by self-

interest. The median poll respondent depicted offers animals one absolute protection,

from hunting; however, in 1994 only 5.9% of Americans bought hunting licenses,

indicating that the median respondent held no personal interest in hunting.5 (U.S. Fish

and Wildlife Service statistic cited in Foster 1995)

Whatever arguments may be brought to bear for or against animal welfare or

rights considerations, in our democratic society it has already become an issue by the

voice of a vocal minority and an apparently accepting majority, and will become more


Democratic Processes

By its nature, the polity of a democratic society can impose any restriction or

bestow any right on any person, place, or thing which the political process chooses and

unwillingness to provide these results.

SSee footnote number 6.


which does not make the polity untenable. The only constraints are the process and, in

the longer term, the sustainability of the outcome.

In this country the process is defined in part by the federal constitution. This

constitution restricts the authority of government to deprive owners of property, and so

long as animals are considered to be property strictly, there exists protection from very

restrictive legislation. However, once animals are defined as more than property, the last

constitutional objection is gone, and the choice becomes purely political; there is nothing,

then, necessarily unconstitutional about animal welfare or rights legislation.

The legal history of animal welfare legislation in the United States dates to "The

Body of Liberties" enacted by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1641 which stated, "No

man shall exercise any Tiranny or Crueltie towards any bruite Creature which are usuallie

kept for man's use." (Animal Welfare Institute, p.1)

Many modem anti-cruelty laws may be read as forbidding many of the standard

practices to which animal activists object.6 The law in the state of Maryland, with which

the case study for this research is concerned, reads as follows:

27:59. Cruelty to animals a misdemeanor.

6 The Florida statute, which is typical of state anti-cruelty laws, reads as follows:
828.12. Cruelty to Animals. Whoever unnecessarily overloads, overdrives, tortures,
torments, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily or cruelly beats,
mutilates, or kills any animal, or causes the same to be done, or carries in or upon any
vehicle, or otherwise, any animal in a cruel or inhuman manner, is guilty of a
misdemeanor of the first degree, a fine of not more than $5,000,
[imprisonment not exceeding 1 year, or both. (Florida Statute 775.082)] (p.18, Animal
Welfare Institute)


Any person who (1) overdrives, overloads, deprives of necessary
sustenance, tortures, torments, cruelly beats, mutilates or cruelly kills; or (2)
causes, procures or authorizes these acts; or (3) having the charge or custody of
an animal, either as owner or otherwise, inflicts unnecessary suffering or pain
upon the animal, or unnecessarily fails to provide the animal with nutritious food
in sufficient quantity, necessary veterinary care, proper drink, air, space, shelter
or protection from the weather; or (4) uses or permits to be used any bird, fowl,
or cock for the purpose of fighting with any other animal, which is commonly
known as cockfighting, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not
exceeding $1,000 or by imprisonment not to exceed 90 days, or both...
27:62 Definitions

The words 'torture,' 'torment,' and 'cruelty' mean every act, omission, or
neglect whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering is caused
or permitted, and the word 'animal' means every living creature except man.
(Maryland Statutes, cited in Animals and Their Legal Rights, p.26)

This is representative of the vagueness of state anti-cruelty laws, which generally

leave the definition of cruelty so open to interpretation that any judge of a certain mind

could find against any farmer that he felt was causing 'unnecessary or unjustifiable

physical pain or suffering.' A Maryland broiler producer with, say, 100,000 birds could,

in theory, face over 24,000 years of 90 day sentences or $100,000,000 in fines for one

offending management practice.

Neither should the intent of the legislators at the time these laws were originally

passed be counted upon to protect traditional practices; modem judicial interpretation

makes great allowances for changing community standards in the literal interpretation of

old statutes. 'Unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain' might be interpreted in light of

such public views as were expressed in the poll referred to in the introduction of this

work; and new community standards may define as 'unnecessarily painful' any practice,

however essential to modem production or rooted in ageworn tradition, which causes any

pain, or even discomfort, to the animals involved.


Further, the provisions for 'proper drink, air, space,' etc., leave those production

parameters particularly subject to state jurisprudence. In addition, the definition of

"animals" to include "all living creatures" is broader than that in the dictionary, which

would itself define rats, cockroaches, and amoebas as "animals."

In short, the status quo of production agriculture does not have institutional inertia

on its side. Changing community standards regarding the status of animals need not be

acted upon legislatively to effect a change; they need only be recognized by, and

incorporated into the opinions of, individual judges.

Current law in many states is so open to interpretation as to require action merely

to preserve the status quo. This legal ambiguity, the growing anthropomorphic

sentiments of urban and suburban citizens, and the dominance of the audible debate by

one side are each significant; taken together they suggest a wide variety of possibilities

for the future of animals in human society.

In 1988, voters in Massachusetts were asked to pass judgement upon a ballot

initiative, the ballot summary of which read in full:

The proposed law would require the Commissioner of the
Department of Food and Agriculture to issue regulations to ensure that
farm animals are maintained in good health and that cruel or inhumane
practices are not used in the raising, handling or transportation of farm
The Commissioner would issue regulations, effective within four
years after passage of the proposed law, about the surgical procedures
used on farm animals, the transportation and slaughter offarm animals,
and the diet and housing of those animals. The Director of the Division
of Animal Health could issue exemption permits for a period of time up to
one year and one half to any farmer.
Under the proposed measure, an unpaid Scientific Advisory Board
on Farm Animal Welfare comprised of veterinarians and animal scientist
would also be established within the Department of Food and Agriculture.

The Board wold examine animal agricultural practices, issue for
publication certain reports on farm practices, and make non-binding
recommendations to the Commissioner about specific regulations. If
appropriated by the legislature, the Board may allocate an annual sum of
not more than ten cents per Massachusetts citizen to assist farmers in
adopting methods which are consistent with the purposes of this law.
The Director of the Division ofAnimal Health would be responsible
for enforcing regulations issued as a result of this proposed law. Persons
who violate the new law would be punished by a fine of up to $1,000.

Among the provisions of this law not mentioned in the Attorney General's "fair

and concise summary" were directives to the Commissioner to ensureue sufficient and

appropriate ventilation, flooring, bedding, space, and temperature control to maintain the

health and comfort of each farm animal" (emphasis added) and to ensure "healthful" and

"nourishing" diets "to maintain optimum health and well-being of each animal." In

addition, any construction or modification of an animal housing structure costing over

$10,000 would have to be reviewed by the Scientific Advisory Board, four of whose five

members would be appointed by the Governor only after being "nominated by at least

two nonprofit humane organizations constituted for the primary purpose of preventing

cruelty to animals and incorporated in Massachusetts." Finally, for purposes of

enforcement, the law would allow that "Any person residing in or incorporated in

Massachusetts may commence a civil suit in Superior Court on his own behalf to compel

the commissioner or director to perform any duty which is required" by this law. (Mass.

House Bill No. 4002)

That nearly 30% of voters supported this bill after a 2-150 defeat in the

Massachusetts House of Representatives and a 0-34 defeat in the state Senate, and after

a well-financed campaign by the Massachusetts Farm Bureau, suggests, again, that animal


welfare and animal rights must be addressed by the agricultural establishment in a serious

manner. (Department of Food and Agriculture) In Europe, Union recommendations and

individual country laws call for increasingly restrictive measures on behalf of animal

welfare. (See Animal Welfare Institute 1990.)

Animal Welfare: A Public Choice

It may be inferred from the comparison of legislator's animal welfare votes with

those of the public that the ballot initiative holds out the greatest hope for the animal

welfare movement. This is borne out by public choice analysis.7

Voting in legislatures is defined by vote trading, essentially a market for votes in

which votes are exchanged among legislators so that the issues most important to their

own constituents turn in their favor. Though commonly seen as unethical, vote trading

effects a theoretical Pareto improvement whereby each legislator's constituency, taken as

a whole, gains support for that issue which matters most to it. (Mueller 1989)

Much larger numbers of people materially depend upon animal agriculture than

are self-defined "animal activists". A balancing of relative interests would, then, seem

to favor the farmer, whose living is at stake, over the marginally interested majority.

Furthermore, many legislators, elected in geographically defined districts, are specifically

7 "The subject matter of public choice is the same as that of political science... The
methodology of public choice is that of economics, however. The basic behavioral
postulate of public choice, as for economics, is that man is an egotistic, rational, utility
maximizer." (Mueller 1989, p.1) In other words, the political agent is purposive and


dependent upon farm constituencies, which are more geographically specific than the

dispersed supporters of animal welfare measures.

In contrast, isolated single issue votes by the general public favor the majority

above all, regardless of relative interest in the issue's outcome. According to an

important theorem of public choice theory,

If x is a single-dimensional issue, and all voters have single-peaked preferences

defined over x, then x,, the median position, cannot lose under majority rule."

(Mueller 1989, p. 66)

This theorem is demonstrated in Figure 2, also from Mueller (1989). Each "hill"

represents the preference of one voter for a provided quantity of some public good (x)

measured along the horizontal axis. The assumption of single-peaked preferences means

only that each voter has a single maximum preference for x (or for the x relative to its

direct costs, or opportunity costs in other public goods forgone), and that his preference

ordering falls monotonically as x is further from that peak. The position of the median

voter, represented by x,, cannot lose under majority rule because half the other voters

will always favor it over a smaller x, half will always favor it over a larger x, and the

median voter will always favor it, giving x, a majority against any alternative.

Applied to the animal welfare issue, the framers of a ballot initiative would wish

to define the most extreme position which will win a bare majority, so that in practical

Figure 1. Voter preferences on a single-dimensional issue

Median voter

From Mueller (1989)

Figure 2. Voter preferences on animal welfare.

Median voter ?

I E ~ E C-
2 -2

72 2 E


terms as well, the median voter along the animal rights/welfare/use spectrum will define

the degree to which the welfare or rights of animals will be protected.

The representation of voters along the animal welfare spectrum represented in

Figure 3 is consistent with the polls discussed above. The median voter has been defined

above as concerned about animals' welfare, but not at any cost. We can only assume

such a median voter to be a rational economic agent, whose choice will depend upon a

weighing of all its known costs and benefits. This voter will, presumably and

consistently with economic theory, be willing to bear some personal costs for the sake of

animals and the satisfaction received from their improved welfare; but for the trade-off

to be efficient, it must be understood. Therefore, analysis of costs and benefits associated

with projects for the welfare of animals is not only justified, but would seem to be


Finally, the bounded rationality of such economic agents tends toward a fuzzy

perception of self-interest. Even if corrected over time, this could, in the case of

inadequately considered animal welfare measures, cause expensive disruptions to animal

agriculture, to the detriment of producers and consumers. Again, foreknowledge has a

value which must be recognized.


"It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken. Frank Perdue

Concerns for the welfare of commercial poultry, particularly broilers, are less

confounded with such issues as aesthetics or human health and safety than are concerns

for other commercial farm animals. Chickens are not cute. They do not graze, thereby

adding charm to rural views. It is generally difficult to identify with chickens, except

in a relatively abstract and philosophical way. Human safety concerns are related much

more to processing practices than to the conditions in which the birds lived. The health

concerns attendant to meat-eating, commonly raised by animal advocates, are least for

chicken among farm animals.

It is for these reasons, among others, that the broiler industry is chosen for the

case study in this research. The estimated costs of regulation on behalf of animals may

be counted directly as the human cost of animal welfare. To a large extent we are not

indirectly promoting our own physical well-being by pursuing better conditions or higher

standing for broiler chickens, so that we may directly relate the pursuit of animal welfare,

as an end, to human economic goods forgone, as a means to that end.

The Maryland Broiler Industry

The application of modern mass production techniques to the broiler industry since

the 1950's and 1960's makes that industry a particularly useful case study in the

consideration of animal welfare. Almost inevitably, this industrialization represents the

future of commercial livestock production in the United States, as may be suggested by

more recent changes in hog and beef production. Other animal sectors are still in a

transition to what will more closely resemble the broiler industry.

According to one argument, the capital intensity of modem meat production, by

reducing the need for land, along with improvements in transportation of feedstuffs,

should lead increasingly to the efficient location of pork, beef, and other animal

production facilities nearer to urban centers. (Abdalla 1995) This has the potential to put

animal farms within the jurisdiction of animal-concerned constituencies.

However, the natural economic efficiencies of this movement are often outweighed

by the poor image such modern facilities seem to have in the eyes of urban and suburban

populations with respect to other aspects of the "factory farm." These difficulties are

generally associated with odor, unsightliness (in contrast to the "picture book" farms of

old or of imagination), and the risks of surface and groundwater pollution associated with

the large volumes of animal waste necessarily processed in large animal operations. Of

course, animal welfare is another of these concerns.

As such public perceptions lead to the redefinition of property rights, broiler and

other livestock industries will face increasing scrutiny. Proximity to cities and suburbs


and sites in urban states will become a political, and so economic, liability. (Abdalla and

Shaffer 1997)

Table 1. Broilers: Production and price, 1934-94'

Production, Thousands Price per Pound2
Year Birds Pounds Cents 1994 Dollars

1934 34,030 96,594 19.3 2.14
1944 274,149 817,605 28.8 2.43
1954 1,047,798 3,236,248 23.1 1.27
1964 2,161,172 7,521,269 14.2 .68
1974 2,992,820 11,320,396 21.5 .65
1984 4,283,020 17,861,023 33.7 .48
1994 7,017,540 32,528,500 35.0 .35

1/ Marketing year December 1-November 30.
2/ Liveweight equivalent price.
3/ 1994 is preliminary.
Sources: Poultry: Production and Value, Annual Summary, National Agricultural
Statistics Service, USDA. CPI: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

In many ways the Maryland broiler industry is ahead of other meat industries.

Its growth has been associated in part with its proximity to the large markets of the

Northeast. It resides in a primarily urban and suburban state and so is subject to state

regulation by a state government answering to an urban and suburban constituency.

Because its move into such a "neighborhood" pre-dates many of the present concerns for

animal pollution and the calls for collective action against animal production, the

Maryland broiler industry offers a lesson on such conflict between the direct economic


benefits of location and public perceptions about the "factory farm," perceptions which

will define collective public action.

In 1995, the broilers produced 63% of producer revenues in the $18.6 billion U.S.

poultry sector, including eggs, turkey, and other meat-type chickens. (NASS 1996) As

can be seen in Table 1, there has been enormous growth in the broiler industry since its

modest beginnings. Large reductions in cost of production, and so in price, have fed the

demand which has made such growth possible.

Table 2. Top broiler firms: market share and number of plants, selected years 1/

Percentage of total U.S. Number of slaughter plants operated
Year 4 largest 8 largest 20 4 largest 8 largest 20 largest
firms firms largest firms firms firms

1960 12 18 32 21 31 52
1964 18 28 44 36 51 80
1968 18 29 47 31 48 84
1972 17 29 43 25 47 80
1976 18 31 55 26 47 91
1980 23 39 66 34 60 104
1984 34 51 73 41 68 105
1987 38 55 78 50 77 116

1/ Includes only those firms slaughtering broilers under Federal inspection.
Source: Lasley 1988.


There has been a steady trend since 1959 toward industrial concentration in the

sector, with a few large integrated companies controlling larger and larger shares of

production, in order to take advantage of economies of scale in processing and marketing.

(See Table 2.) These companies control all aspects of production and processing directly

or indirectly. Indirect control of the 'growing out' of broilers is maintained by the

contract under which independent operators produce the grown bird. These large

integrators typically hatch eggs from purchased breeding stock, and harvest, process, and

market the grown birds. The integrators provide the growers with nearly all inputs to

production, including feed, chicks, veterinary services, and production advice. The

growers own only the broiler houses (often built to integrator specification) and

equipment, and provide the labor, management, and capital-related expenses. (Knoeber

and Thurman 1995, Lasley et al. 1988)

These large integrated processors have returns to scale and size so great that there

is no effective market for live broilers. "Due to integration in the industry, there is no

farm-level broiler price, so the USDA constructs a farm-level equivalent price by

subtracting estimated processing and marketing costs from observed retail prices."

(Knoeber and Thurman 1995, p.492.) The four largest integrators in 1990 controlled

41.2% of production nationally. (Knoeber and Thurman 1995)

The grower operation is concerned with the growth of the birds from the setting

of a flock of integrator provided chicks to their catching, after seven weeks of growth,

of four-pound birds, ready for slaughter and processing.


The closed, intensive nature of broiler production, and the careful control of the

birds themselves, lead to less direct and less extensive conflict between production and

human habitat, so that the issue of broiler welfare, when it is raised, is less to be

confounded with the 'not in my backyard' concerns described above, which have plagued

many new and established dairy, pork, and even egg operations. Since broilers are less

aesthetically pleasing and less prone to personification than most mammals, the issue of

their welfare is more specifically about the nature of human responsibilities to other

species. For these reasons, the broiler industry is a useful case study for examining the

ends and means of animal welfare.

Maryland, as an increasingly urban and suburban state with a large animal

production industry, may be seen as a relatively likely area for the success of the animal

welfare lobby. The state's ballot initiative process would allow a small committed group

to place an animal welfare bill on the ballot. A large urban population in both Baltimore

and the 'edge cities' around the District of Columbia, with limited exposure to production

agriculture, are more likely to support such an initiative. In such a vote the passion of

faint-heartedness of each vote has no bearing on the outcome; if the median voter is only

barely convinced to vote "for the animals," his vote counts is weighed the same as all the


The geographic isolation of broiler production from those centers also might

weaken its appeal and potential ability to mount a campaign in opposition. The broiler

industry is a large part of Maryland's rural economy, especially in those eight counties

where production is concentrated; a large impact upon production would have a large

general impact upon those counties.

Table 3. Broilers: Production, Price, and Value by State and Total, 1995 2

State 1,000 1,000 Price/Lb.3 Value of
Birds Pounds Production
AL 900,000 4,230,000 .340 1,438,200
AR 1,107,300 4,982,900 .355 1,768,930
CA 235,800 1,179,000 .325 383,175
DE 263,100 1,394,400 .340 474,096
GA 1,070,000 5,136,000 .345 1,771,920
MD 295,700 1,360,200 .340 462,468
MS 644,000 2,962,400 .335 992,404
NC 670,100 3,417,500 .340 1,161,950
TX 395,200 1,746,800 .370 646,316
VA 260,100 1,196,500 .335 400,828

FL 139,800 615,100 .355 218,361

US' 7,325,670 34,222,000 .344 11,762,222

'December 1, 1994, through November 30, 1995.
2Broiler production including other domestic meat-type breeds.
'Liveweight equivalent prices, derived from ready-to-cook (RTC) prices using the
following formulas: (RTC price minus processing cost) X (dressing percentage) =
liveweight equivalent price.
'Excludes States producing less than 500,000 birds.
Soure: "Poultry Production and Value Summary", Released May 2, 1996, by the
National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, U.S.
Department of Agriculture.


In 1995, Maryland's 690,000 tons of broiler production ranked seventh among the

United States. (See Table 3.) This $462 million industry has an enormous impact on

Maryland's eight Eastern Shore counties, which form her part of the larger Delmarva

(Delaware-Maryland-Virginia) peninsula. This value of production is equal to more than

8% of personal income in these counties, which in 1992 produced 99.7% of the state's

257,209,663 broilers and other meat-type chickens, and contained all but six of the state's

1070 farms selling over 2,000 birds. The other Delmarva states, Delaware and Virginia,

produce another 1.3 million tons of broilers, and contain the other two thirds of a $1.3

billion regional industry. (U.S. Dept. of Commerce; See Table 4.)

The mean annual sales per Eastern Shore farm is about 240,770 birds. (U.S.

Dept. of Commerce) The median bird is produced on a farm producing 200,000 to

500,000 annually, and the median farm produces just over 200,000 birds. Poultry and

poultry products accounted for 63% of 1992 sales of livestock and poultry products and

42% of all agricultural sales in Maryland. (p 10, U.S. Dept. of Commerce)

Potential Restrictions

The most extreme and most unlikely restriction upon the broiler industry in the

state of Maryland would be a ban on all animal agriculture. This could be simply

evaluated as the loss of animal-based agricultural economic activity and the complete

depreciation of all unmovable and unadaptable capital in the sector. Beyond such a ban,

there is a large range of restrictions upon production practices desired by more or less of

the animal welfare community.


It has already been shown that the Maryland animal cruelty statute is so broadly

written as to allow severe restrictions on all animal agriculture, if a small minority of

judges and bureaucrats were to so interpret it. As animal welfare becomes more widely

debated, the state's attitude toward animals and their keepers will necessarily be redefined

and refined.

Restrictions could include bans on de-beaking and toe-trimming, both seen as

detrimental to animal welfare by animal advocates and as vital to the health of the birds

by growers. Any production system employing such restrictions would necessarily be

significantly different from current practices, or would, at the least, require study by

poultry scientists to determine their impacts upon production.

The requirement of a specific amount of floor space per animal is a common

demand from animal advocates of all animal production industries. In addition, as a

continuously variable input to existing production systems it has been studied in the

poultry science literature, and the results of these studies may be applied to an economic

consideration. This restriction will be examined in more detail in Chapters 5 and 6.


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Using an imperfect but uniquely scientific index of animal welfare ordering, an

integrated theory of production and welfare can be developed in the neo-classical

framework to formally express a relationship between animal welfare and economic


Defining Welfare

Framing such an economic theory of animal welfare depends upon developing a

definition of animal welfare which is consistent with observable data and which is

relevant to the economic decisions of animal production.

A large and growing animal and poultry science literature explores the relationship

between farming practice and various indices of animal well-being. Three of these

indices which have been widely studied are animal preferences and behavior,

physiological stress, and productivity.

In Europe most recent scientific research on animal well-being has focused upon

preferences and other behavioral criteria. The absence of "natural" patterns of behavior,


stereotypic behavior ("persistent, highly repetitive behaviors without obvious purpose"),

and "vacuum" behavior (behavior inappropriate to the relatively barren environment of

a production facility, such as birds "dust-bathing" on a concrete floor) are all seen as

indicating "mental suffering" on the part of the animal. Duncan and Petherick have been

cited as suggesting that "animal welfare is dependent solely on the mental, psychological,

and cognitive needs of the animals concerned."(Craig and Swanson 1994, p.927) This

may have intuitive appeal to the economist who defines human welfare as the fulfillment

of purposive and consistent preferences.

At first sight the economist may also be attracted to the preference ordering

approach to animal welfare which is now gaining support in the animal sciences. The

choices animals make among freely 'offered' multiple alternatives are recorded as a

revealed preference ordering. The technique is further advanced by throwing up obstacles

to the animals' choice of one option over another; this is supposed to suggest a 'price',

or willingness to pay, on the part of the animal. (Duncan 1992)

The same economist will, presumably, recognize on closer examination that the

significance of such results is based upon an assumption that animals, like homo

economics, are purposive and consistent in their preferences, and that their cognitive

abilities allow them to efficiently determine means to their preferred ends. Even the

proponents of this approach recognize that animals often choose what is contrary to their

physical well-being, especially farm animals whose artificial selection or artificial

environment are not compatible with the assumption of instinctive self-interest. In these

cases, where physical well-being is not promoted by the animal's preferred alternative,


these supporters of the preference approach will define the inconsistency as an exception

to their general rule, and acknowledge that the health promoting alternative represents a

higher level of welfare. (Duncan 1992)

Since the 1960's, many researchers have attempted to define the overall well-being

of animals by the presence or absence of physiological 'stress', as measured by a specific

bio-chemical response. The long-held assumption that all stressors produce identical

physiological responses in the higher animals (i.e. stimulation of the pituitary and adrenal

cortex) has now been abandoned. There are, in fact, no physiological responses that are

consistently correlated with all stressors, so that stressors must ultimately be defined as

those factors which produce long-term negative impacts on physical well-being. (Hill

1983) In addition, significant observation effects related to the handling of animals for

measurement purposes can seriously confound results. (Craig and Adams 1983) As with

behavior and preferences, those supporting the use of physiological indicators of stress

to measure overall well-being define as exceptions to their general rule those cases in

which physical well-being is not consistent with the measured level of their indicators.

(Hill 1983) In addition, some stress, especially early in life, has been shown to advance

long-term welfare by promoting adaptations which allow the animal to better cope with

other, later stressors. (Craig and Swanson 1994) In the absence of a consistent

physiological response, the concept of stress as a measure of well-being is tautological,

as well-being simply becomes the absence of stress.

The most consistent, measurable, and scientifically legitimate indicator of animal

well-being is the productivity of the animal. Since productivity, measured by mortality,


reproduction, and weight gain, indicates much about the health of the animal, and since

physical well-being is consistently defined as a necessary basis for overall well-being, a

scientific approach to animal welfare may be effectively based upon identifying

productivity with welfare (Macindoe 1987).'

Several criticisms are made against productivity as a measure of welfare.' First

are the objections to average productivity, which fails to account for welfare differences

among animals within a group. (Hill 1983) However, among animals of homogeneous

age, breeding, and physical characteristics, such as typifies production agriculture, these

differences should be minimal. (Craig and Adams 1983) In addition, the lack of a

definitive weighting of reproduction, mortality, and weight gain (and milk production,

for milking animals) leads critics to represent productivity measurements as potentially

contradictory. (Hill 1983) This is true to some degree, but may be countered by pointing

out the correlations among rates of reproduction, longevity, and growth within most

species. Where such correlations do not exist this criticism warrants consideration, if

only in a context of weaker alternative measures.

SProductivity may be an even more appropriate index of animal well-being in light
of the "social Darwinist" philosophy outlined above; the definition of well-being by those
outcomes which would tend to represent evolutionary success may be the best measure
of "the general good or welfare of the community", or alternatively, the best measure of
the success of the genetic vehicle.

2 Another concern may be the presumably negative impact on welfare from such
practices which attempt, over the lifetime of the animal, to alter the nature of the animal
product, such as the swelling of duck livers and the whitening of veal. This may be
examined as a matter of animal health. Most animal productivity measures, however, are
consistent with animal health.


The field of economic history, in fact, has adopted physical height as the best

index of the former well-being of the mute dead. Graves are now robbed in the name

of economic science, bones are measured, and the deceased are returned, confident that

their feet and inches have revealed what their mouths never will, namely their welfare

relative to their shorter ancestor or taller descendent. (Steckel 1995) If these economists

can evaluate welfare from the bones of the dead and make comparisons across vast

genetic, geographic, and chronological diversity, then we can certainly find value in such

an index among genetically homogenous broilers in the same building at the same time,

with the only difference the conditions of their captivity.

Another, more common, criticism of productivity as a measure of animal welfare

comes from critics' confusion of animal productivity with profitability. (Craig and Adams

1983; Curtis 1988) The relationship between profitability and productivity, and their

different implications for animal well-being, is our next consideration.

Welfare and Production

For those animals for which the identity of measurable welfare with measurable

health, and so with per animal productivity, has been established, an economic evaluation

of welfare can easily be conceived in the context of microeconomic production theory.

The theory of the firm provides a framework for considering animal welfare in

relation to human costs. The relationship between cost and welfare can be established

theoretically under both welfare and profit maximization.

Consider a strictly concave production function,

(1) y = f(xbX,x,,,x),


(2) f1 > 0

(3) f, < 0

(4) faf, f, > 0,

for i,j = b,h,f,l, and where y is liveweight broiler production, Xb is the number of chicks

set in the flock, and the x,, x,, and x, are housing, feed, and labor inputs, respectively.

This production function and its impact upon per animal welfare, as we have defined it,

may be analyzed in the contexts of maximization of that welfare, of farm-level profit

maximization the aim of the grower, and of per unit cost minimization the aim of the

corporate integrator.

Welfare Maximization

Taking productivity per bird as a monotonically increasing function of welfare,

as is consistent with our definition of productivity as an index of welfare ordering,

welfare maximization takes the form of the following optimization:

(5) Max (y/x) = f(Xb,,xh,,X,)/X,,

for which first order conditions

(6) 5(y/xb)/Xb = (xf-f)/x2 = 0

(7) a(y/x.)/xb, = fbx, = 0

(8) 6(y/xb)/xf = fxb = 0

(9) 5(y/x_,)/bx, = f,/x, = 0

solve to

(10) f, = f/xb

(11) f = f, = f, = 0.

That is, the marginal product of additional birds is equal to the average product per bird,

and the housing, feed, and labor inputs are used until their marginal product is null. This

optimum can be achieved if it is assumed that the per-bird productivity returns to the non-

bird inputs diminish to zero (or, more practically, become statistically indistinguishable

from zero)'. The cost of production will be xJb + x*Ir + xf'r, + x'r,, where x*' is the

welfare-maximizing level of input i, and r, is the given price of input i.

Such an optimization, of course, is both theoretically and practically inconsistent

with profitable farming, as has been confusedly pointed out by most critics of animal

productivity as a index of animal welfare. It does, however, offer a useful starting point

for considering the relationship between welfare and profitability.

Firm Profit Maximization

The production firm described in standard economic theory faces a production

technology, such as that stated above, and a set of market input and output prices, and

maximizes firm profits;

SIt should be further understood that the productivity of animal welfare can only
reasonably be seen as indicative of ordinal utility, and that attempts to compare different
increments of utility/growth along the production function or to compare the welfare of
two significantly different chickens would be unscientific and irrelevant to economic

(12) Profit = f(xb,xi,xf,xl)p Xrb r r -xfr i-fr.

Profit maximization is defined by the first order conditions

(13) b(Profit)/5x, = fp r, = 0,

which solve to

(14) f, = r,/p,

for all i = b,h,f,l.

Farm-level profit maximization, then, approaches welfare maximization, as

defined by equations (10) and (11), as the cost of chicks set approaches one hundred

percent of total cost of production, which is again defined by x'rb, + x Xhr + x'fr, + xIr,,

where x, is now the firm profit-maximizing level of input i, and r, remains the given

price of input i. This condition obviously differs greatly from the current cost structure

of broiler production, (see Chapter 6, Table 3,) but the extent to which the profit

maximizing welfare outcome differs from that of welfare maximization depends upon the

curvature of the production function. One significant implication of this is that the

assessment of a head tax on farm animals, in place of taxes on other inputs to animal

agriculture, would alter profit maximization (and cost minimization, based on results

presented below,) outcomes in favor of animal welfare.

Constrained Firm Profit Maximization

Consider the constraint of such a firm by a floor space requirement, as has been

discussed above among potential restrictions, which fixes a minimum ratio (k) of housing

inputs (x4) to chicks set (x,),

(15) x,/x > or = k.

Assuming the constraint to be binding, we may describe it as an equality in the

producer's optimization,

(16) Profit = f(Xb,xh,xr,x,)p x -x x xrr -xr.

s.t. x kx, = 0,

an optimization whose Lagrangian is

(17) L = f(xb,xh,xr,x,)p XI b xr xr, -xrI + m(,x kx).

The first order conditions for this Lagrangian solve to

(18) fb = (rb + mk)/p

(19) f> = (r. m)/p

(20) f, = r,/p

(21) f, = r,/p.

This constraint, then, has the same positive impact upon welfare as the combination of

an addition to the input price of chicks (r,) equal to the shadow price of the constraint (m)

times the constrained bird per housing unit ratio (k) and a reduction of m from the input

price for housing (r,) equal to m; that is, given a production function, the animal welfare

effect is directly related to the cost of the constraint, defined by the Lagrangian m.

This establishes a direct functional relationship between human welfare, as

measured by the market in dollars and cents, and animal welfare, measured by

productivity as a chosen proxy for physical well-being. This "welfare" relationship,

expressed by the outcomes of a constraint of the production function, can be considered

in the context of other human optimizations of animal production processes.

Contract Broiler Optimization

In contrast to the classical profit-maximizing farm, the typical broiler growout

operation is defined by the terms of the grower's contract with the integrator. As

indicated above, the modern integrated poultry processing firm is large in scale and

maintains a high degree of control over the production decisions of its contract growers,

primarily through this contract, which is written by the integrator to provide incentives

to per-unit cost minimization. Before considering the grower, then, it is important to

define the objective of the integrator.

The large scale of operation of the integrated poultry firms makes per-unit cost

minimization their logical economic aim at the level of the broiler house, the duplicability

of which essentially eliminates scale effects for the integrator in the growout stage of

broiler production. The integrators' decisions are oriented to cost minimization, and that

mandate is imposed upon the grower by the terms of his contract and by the lack of a

market for independent broiler production. So much, in fact, is production integrated

with processing that there no longer exists a meaningful market price for live broilers;

U.S.D.A. price estimates are based upon the 'ready-to-cook' price less estimates of

processing costs. (Footnote 3; Chapter 4, Table 3; Knoeber and Thurman 1995)

The integrator's objective may be stated as the minimization of the price of the

live broiler input to the processing operation. The unconstrained dual of per-unit cost

minimization is per-unit profit maximization, i.e.,

(22) Max Prof/y = p rx/y

= Min (-p + rx/y)

= -p + Min rx/y,

where p is a exogenous. This last term will be a more convenient expression of the

optimization under discussion.

Consider the per unit cost minimization/ profit maximization objective, subject to

given prices (p,r,r,,r,rt),

(23) Max Prof/y = {p(f(xb,,xf,x,,) xbb xr xr, x,r}/f(,x,x,,x,),

whose first order conditions solve to

(24) fb = rd[(xbrb + x'rb + x',r, + x'rT)/f

(25) f1 = r'/[(x'rd + x'h + xrr, + x',r,)/f

(26) ff = r/[(xrb + Xbhr + x'rf + xr,)/f]

(27) f, = r,/[(x'rb + xbrb + x'rr, + x'r,)/f

Similarly to profit maximization, cost minimization approaches an animal welfare

maximizing outcome, (i.e., equations (24-27) approach the conditions expressed in

equations (10) and (11),) as x'rb approaches one hundred percent of the cost of


Alternatively, (24-27) may be expressed as

(28) (x',rb + x'r, + x'r, + x r,)/f = rdfb = rb/fh = r/f, = r,/f,.

The last four terms of this equation are, of course, a standard result for cost minimization

and profit maximization; with the first term, the equation also produces a scale solution

(if one exists) for unit-cost minimization/per unit profit maximization at the broiler house



The grower contract is the vehicle for the translation of integrator unit-cost

minimization into grower profit maximization. These contracts typically set the grower's

price (p), presumably at something estimated by the integrator at or near the minimum

cost of production. The broiler houses are built to contract specifications, effectively

establishing a duplicable, but not continuously variable, x, for the grower operation. The

number and quality of chicks set for each growout (x) is determined and provided by the

integrator. In addition, growers obtain feed exclusively from the integrators, who thereby

establish its quality and its effective price (r,). In addition, the veterinary services and

technical assistance must direct, to some degree, the grower's production practices. The

high degree of market concentration in the broiler processing industry must also be

significant in defining a condition of monopsonistic competition among integrators,

limiting the alternatives of growers unhappy with the terms of their contract, almost

certainly to an extent that allows integrators to set a bare break-even (cost-minimizing)

price for live broilers, accounting for no profits beyond the market value of the grower's

labor and the opportunity cost of capital.

Broiler contracts are generally based on "tournament pricing", under which

growers are paid more per unit as their costs per unit are lower than other "competing"

growers in a given period of time. The dominance of this pricing scheme in broilers

particularly has been attributed to the high market concentration in the processing sector;

this offers the large numbers of growers relative to processors which is favorable to

effective tournament pricing (Barry et al. 1992).


The contract performance of growers is measured by a 'settlement cost', based

upon a formula:

(28) sc, = (xrb + xr)/y,

where sc, is the individual grower's settlement cost (Knoeber and Thurman 1995). Under

these terms, r, and r, are established by the integrators. The price paid the grower (p)

is a base price (p,) plus (or minus) the amount which the grower's settlement cost is less

than (or greater than) the average settlement cost (sc.) among contracted growers during

a limited time period:

(29) p, = po + (sc ((Xrb + xr)I/y))

This determines the grower's profit function,

(30) Profit = f(xb,,x,,x,,x)(p + (sc. (xbrb + xrf)/f(Xb,x,,x,,xI)) xr, -xr,.

This reduces to an apparently standard profit maximization

(31) Max Profit = f(x,,x,,x,,x)(p + sc) xr xr, xr, xr,,

except that x,, x,, rb, r,, and p, are explicitly determined by the integrator. With xb and

x, fixed, the first order conditions solve to

(32) f1(x,x.,x,,x,) = r/(p0 + sc)

(33) f,(xb,x,x,,x,) = rI/(p, + sc)

More importantly, the integrator defines, on average, (p, + sc), which is

effectively the grower's output price; if the integrator has adequate cost information, this

price may be set equal to an average minimum unit cost, leaving the grower no economic

choice for profit maximization but an approximation to unit-cost minimization. Such

contracts shift broiler price risk onto the integrator, but impose a large degree of cost


minimization per unit of production upon the grower through integrator-determined inputs

and prices.

It is clear, then, that the integrator is the defining decision maker in the

production process, and that it will be more useful to treat broiler production as subject

to unit-cost minimization.

Constrained Contract Broiler Optimization

Consider, then, the effective imposition of the same per-bird housing requirement

upon per unit cost minimization, fixing a minimum ratio (k) of housing inputs to birds

(xb/4). The integrator's constrained optimization, again assuming the constraint is

binding, is

(34) Max(Prof/y) = {p(f(,xh1,xf,x,) Xbb xar xr, X brT}/f(xx,,x3,X),

s.t. x kxb = 0.

The Lagrangian function for this optimization is

(35) L = {pf xbr x xr xr,}/f m(x, kx),

where m is the Lagrangian multiplier. First order conditions solve to

(36) f = (rb-mkf)/[(xrb + xr, + x*fr, + x'r,)/f]

(37) fi = (r,+mf)/[(x'rb + X',r + xrf + x',r)/f]

(38) f, = r,/[(x'rb + x'.r + x'fr + x'r,)/fl

(39) f, = r,/[(x'br + x'b + x',r, + x)/fl.

This also may be expressed as

(40) (xbrb+ Xr,+xrr+xJr1)/f = (r,-mkf)/f = (r,+mf)/f, = r,/f, = rl/f,.


If m is positive, the constraint is effective. If it is negative, it is not and the

producer optimization is effectively unconstrained.

Compare this with the unconstrained producer optimization,

(28) (xbrb + x r + xrf + xr1)/f = rdfb = r/fb = rff = r1/f.

Given a well-behaved production function and assuming no scale effect, an

effective restriction (one for which m is positive) will reduce the output per housing

input. The effect on the feed and labor inputs is ambiguous. Most significant to this

research, cost per unit is increased by a magnitude defined by m on the one hand, and

output per bird is increased on the other, achieving in some measure an increase in

welfare according to our index.

It is the weighing of this increment of animal welfare against the corresponding

increase in direct and indirect human costs that represents the fundamental trade-offs

which must be decided upon as animal welfare takes a prominent place in public

discourse. In Chapter 6 this trade-off is quantified by means consistent with the theory

drawn above.


A case study will demonstrate a method of evaluating the human costs of

restricting agriculture on behalf of animals and, to some extent, of putting those costs in

the context of effects on animal welfare. Hypothetical restrictions on Maryland broiler

production are considered and experimental poultry science data are used to incorporate

alternative production relationships both in economic terms and in terms of impacts on

the birds. The results are presented only as an example of the type of information which

may profitably inform policy decisions affecting economic production and animal welfare.

Another study examining the effect of a mandatory lower housing density in

broiler production was done by Simpson and Rollin (1984). This was a static comparison

of costs for a standard practice and a doubling of floor space, assuming no effect on

animal productivity and not evaluating impacts on animal welfare. Based upon a 1981

budget for an 18,000 bird broiler house in Central Georgia, the authors estimated a 27%

increase in cost per pound of broiler production on the basis of assumed increases in costs

for the building, litter, fuel, and power. That study doubled floor space per bird by

doubling the size of the broiler house; the present study will consider instead the impacts

on existing operations.


A firm budget for a representative Maryland broiler operation was compiled using

data from published sources, especially a broiler cost and returns budget for 1992 by the

U.S.D.A.'s Economic Research Service and Delmarva broiler budgets estimated at the

University of Delaware (ERS 1993; Gempesaw et al. 1994; Gempesaw et al. 1992;

Gempesaw and Bhargava 1990; Gempesaw et al. 1989.)

Table 5. Effects of broiler density on body weight and feed conversion

Density Body weight (g.) Feed Conversion
(Std. dev.) (Std. dev.)
0.05 1895 2.25
(226.7) (0.085)
0.07 2001 2.20
(261.9) (0.065)
0.09 2064 2.22
(230.6) (0.060)
0.11 2055 2.33
(293.5) (0.139)

Source: Cravener, T.L., et al. "Broiler Production Under Varying Population
Densities," in Poultry Science 1992, 71:427-433.

Data from poultry science research were used to represent the relationship between

housing density, on the one hand, and body weight and feed efficiency, on the other hand

(Cravener et al. 1992). The experimental results after seven weeks of four different

population densities are incorporated into the model. The feed efficiency results are


consistent with numbers reported by USDA and the Delaware researchers, and were

incorporated directly into the model; the experimental body weight numbers differed

somewhat from the Delaware numbers, so they were normalized to be consistent with

reported average body weights.

Another significant element of both the welfare and production outcomes

addressed by the Cravener study cited above is mortality. Clearly, changes in mortality

will influence the volume of production. It will also have an impact on welfare which

would confound an analysis of animal welfare based upon productivity. It is fortunate

for the simplicity of interpretation of the following analysis that Dr. Cravener and his

colleagues found no statistically significant impact on mortality associated with the

variations in density which their study examined.

Although such experimental data must be used with caution, they nevertheless

form a useful basis for developing analysis incorporating production relationships which

vary with density.


The model itself begins with a baseline simulation of costs on a representative

Maryland broiler operation, based upon the budget data described above. With facility

size assumed to be fixed, impacts on cost from changes in broiler density are estimated.

Fixed costs are assumed fixed and most variable costs are changed in proportion to the

number of birds set in the house, given each density level.


The grower's variable expenses include costs which vary in proportion to the

number of flocks set, and costs which vary in proportion to the number of birds set.

Costs for fuel and electricity and litter are assumed to vary with the number of flocks set,

which we further assume to be 6 per house per year. Expenses for hired labor, operating

loan interest, and an "other production costs" category including insecticides,

disinfectants, rodent control, light bulbs, and other utilities, are taken to be variable with

the number of birds set.

The grower's fixed expenses are constant per house. These are the interest

payments on the fixed investment in the house and equipment, the payment to land,

repairs and maintenance, and taxes.

The integrator's costs are all variable. The cost of chicks, medication and

vaccination, catch and haul, condemnations, and field services are all taken as variable

with the number of birds set. This consistency of cost per bird from setting to hauling

is based upon the experimental evidence that the effect on the rate of mortality from the

variations in density that we consider here is not statistically significant; this means that

the number of birds caught and hauled will be in constant proportion to the number of

birds set.

The integrator's feed cost varies with both the number of birds set and the average

amount of feed consumed by each bird. This average consumption is a function in turn

of the feed conversion ratio and the average weight. The feed cost, then, at each density

was calculated as feed efficiency times body weight times the price given by the 1992

USDA study (16.28 cents per pound). Each of the other relationships is made explicit


in the tables below showing the model's results. This is the non-linear element of the

cost analysis.

Analysis is based upon unit cost minimization. The original intention for this

work was to model the profitability of the contract grower over time, but this presented

several problems, especially a theoretical inconsistency.' First and as discussed earlier,

the grower does not face a given set of prices; regulatory constraints on his production

are likely to result in new contract terms, dictated by the integrator and aimed at unit cost

minimization under the new conditions. Second, the contractual nature of broiler

production, by eliminating the discovery of an effective farm level market price, makes

the necessarily dependent estimation of profits speculative at best and meaningless at

worst. Third, the broiler house is a duplicable unit of production which, in many senses,

eliminates economies of scale at the levels of both the contract grower and the integrator.

Analysis of unit cost neatly answered both the theoretical and the practical needs

of this study. It is consistent with the present theoretical framework, it is a simpler and,

consequently, more flexible analytical approach, and it does not depend upon an unknown

or non-existent farm-level market price for finished broilers.

The model, as presented, is static. The addition of a stochastic element was

considered but, again, the contractual nature of the grower's "market" complicates this

application. Looked at from the farm level (ignoring for the moment inconsistencies with

our theoretical conclusions), the grower contract eliminates much of the grower's risk and

SFor such animal industries as continue to consist of traditional firm profit
maximizers, such as beef, dairy, or, until recent years, pork, a profit maximization
approach would be appropriate.


otherwise complicates analysis. Considered at the level of the integrator, stochasticity in

the individual broiler house becomes negligible as the number of integrator-contracted

houses grows very large; unit cost minimization is the aim, over many grower contracts

and in the long run.


Space per bird was established in Chapter 4 as the restriction to be considered.

This is expressed in the model by holding the size of the houses constant and varying the

number of birds. This is reasonable for an analysis of impacts upon existing operations.

Based on the cost relationships and the experimental production data described

above, total and per kilogram costs are calculated for a number of birds per house

corresponding to the experimental densities, demonstrating the potential effect of each

density on unit cost and, by implication from per bird productivity, on welfare.


The model and the model's results are presented in Tables 6, 7, and 8.

Table 6 shows in more detail the parameters of the model. As noted above, these

are a composite of the numbers presented in several studies, as are the cost of production

numbers. The current, or baseline, density of 0.0744 square meters per bird is based on

this composite baseline and is presented for comparison. Its production parameters are

not directly comparable to the experimental results, so the experimental body weights and

feed efficiency results were normalized for consistency with the baseline; this


inconsistency is to be expected, since the actual production baseline results were not

observed under the same experimental conditions as the four experimental densities. This

normalization to the baseline scenario is necessary to estimate changes in commercial

production costs to be expected from the imposition of the experimental densities.

TABLE 6. Cost of Production Simulation Production Parameters

.05 m2 .07 m2 Current .09 m2 .11 m2
Density, me/bird 0.05 0.07 0.0744 0.09 0.11
House area, m2 1859 1859 1859 1859 1859
Fixed investment, $/m' 74 74 74 74 74
Birds/house (1,000) 37.19 26.56 25.00 20.66 16.90
Houses 3 3 3 3 3
Land, acres 10 10 10 10 10
Flocks/year 6 6 6 6 6
Avg. mortality, % 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5
Feed efficiency ratio 2.25 2.20 2.00 2.22 2.33
(normalized) 2.07 2.02 2.00 2.04 2.15
Avg. bird weight, g 1895 2001 2180 2064 2055
,g (normalized) 2045.1 2159.5 2180.0 2227.5 2217.8

Long-term int. rate, % 8 8 8 8 8
Operating loan rate, % 6 6 6 6 6
Prod'n/house/year, kg 440,319 332,107 315,555 266,438 217,044

Table 7 contains estimated total production costs per house per year. Fixed costs

are, of course, unchanged. Fuel and electricity and litter are unchanged, as they vary by

only with the number of flocks set and that is assumed fixed at six.

TABLE 7. Cost of Production Simulation Total Annual Costs per House
.05 m2 .07 m2 Current .09m2 .11 m

Fuel & Electricity 4,248 4,248 4,248 4,248 4,248
Litter 900 900 900 900 900
Hired Labor (i1/bird) 2,153 1,538 1,448 1,196 979
Operating loan interest 281 201 189 156 128
Other production costs 2,374 1,696 1,596 1,319 1,079
TOTAL 9,956 8,582 8,380 7,819 7,333

Land payments 143 143 143 143 143
Interest on facility 11,047 11,047 11,047 11,047 11,047
Repairs/maintenance 717 717 717 717 717
Taxes 287 287 287 287 287
TOTAL 12,195 12,195 12,195 12,195 12,195

Feed ($0.17908/kg) 163,224 120,137 113,019 97,336 83,567
Chicks ($0.018/bird) 38,755 27,682 26,055 21,530 17,616
Medicine, Vaccination 5,167 3,691 3,474 2,871 2,349
Catch & Haul 12,918 9,227 8,685 7,177 5,872
($0.06/bird) _
Condemnations 3,617 2,584 2,432 2,010 1,644
Field Services 5,167 3,691 3,474 2,871 2,349
TOTAL 228,849 167,012 157,139 133,794 113,396

TOTAL COSTS 251,000 187,789 177,714 153,808 132,924
CHANGE IN TOTAL 73,286 10,075 0 (23,906) (44,790)


Hired labor, operating loan interest, and "other" grower production expenses vary

directly with the number of birds defined by each density. Costs of chicks, medicine and

vaccination, catch and haul, condemnations, and field services, among integrator costs

also vary directly with the number of birds defined by each density. Each of these costs

is a linear function of the number of birds, which is in turn an inverse function of the

specified densities.

The integrator's feed cost, in contrast, is equal to the number of birds set times

the survival rate times the average finished bird weight times the average feed conversion

ratio times the (given) price of feed per kilogram. It is this cost into which the

experimental data of Dr. Cravener and colleagues enters.

Table 8 shows the same costs per kilogram of finished liveweight broiler. (See

Table 6.) Total production in kilograms is the number of birds set times the survival rate

times the average finished body weight. This is the denominator for the unit costs

presented in this table and the other way in which the Cravener data enters the analysis.

Density has two effects on unit costs. Unit costs are increased as lower density

causes fixed and quasi-fixed input costs to be spread over fewer birds; unit costs are first

decreased then increased again as lower density has first a positive, then a negative effect

on both feed efficiency (which falls again after .07 square meters) and average body

weight (which falls after .09 square meters.)

The results indicate that unit cost is lowest at .07 square meters per bird, among

the four experimental densities. Again, that this is close to the observed density of .0744

helps to validate both the experimental results and the model as a whole.

TABLE 8. Cost of Production Simulation Costs per Kilogram
.05 m2 .07 m' Current .09m' .11 m2
Fuel & Electricity 0.0096 0.128 0.0135 0.0159 0.0196
Litter 0.0020 0.0027 0.0029 0.0034 0.0041
Hired Labor 0.0049 0.0046 0.0046 0.0045 0.0045
Operating loan interest 0.0006 0.0006 0.0006 0.0006 0.0006
Other production costs 0.0054 0.0051 0.0051 0.0049 0.0050
TOTAL 0.0226 0.0258 0.0266 0.0293 0.0338

Land payments 0.0003 0.0004 0.0005 0.0005 0.0007
Interest on facility 0.0251 0.0333 0.0350 0.0415 0.0509
Repairs/maintenance 0.0016 0.0022 0.0023 0.0027 0.0033
Taxes 0.0007 0.0009 0.0009 0.0011 0.0013
TOTAL 0.0277 0.0367 0.0386 0.0458 0.0562

Feed 0.3707 0.3617 0.3582 0.3653 0.3850
Chicks 0.0880 0.0834 0.0826 0.0808 0.0812
Medicine and Vaccinations 0.0117 0.0111 0.0110 0.0108 0.0108
Catch and Haul 0.0293 0.0278 0.0275 0.0269 0.0271
Condemnations 0.0082 0.0078 0.0077 0.0075 0.0076
Field Services 0.0117 0.0111 0.0110 0.0108 0.0108
TOTAL 0.5197 0.5029 0.4980 0.5022 0.5225

TOTAL UNIT COST 0.5700 0.5654 0.5632 0.5773 0.6124
CHANGE IN UNIT COST 0.0069 0.0023 0.0000 0.0141 0.0493

Grower Impacts

The Delaware researchers cited above treat production across the Delmarva

peninsula as identical, presumably because it is a relatively small area with similar

resource endowments across each of the three states' portions. Given this assumption,

new investment in Maryland broiler houses will cease if minimum housing densities in

that state were to be fixed at .09 or .11 square meters per bird, or any other level

significantly above the cost minimizing density which is, presumedly, the current density

of .074. This is a trivial result (assuming, also, that the land occupied by the grower

operation is valued by the market for its value to some other, less productive, use.)

The model estimates the increase in total and per unit production costs to be

expected from a space constraint upon production. Obviously, those densities so high as

to raise unit costs will not be applied, as they serve the purpose of neither the grower nor

the animal welfarist.

Depreciation or abandonment of existing facilities, on the other hand, will depend

upon the specific costs associated with each density. Again given competition from

unconstrained and otherwise identical producers in neighboring states, all increases in the

unit cost of production will be capitalized into the value of existing facilities. Facilities

will be abandoned when their value in broiler production becomes negative.

Within the present cost minimization analysis and given the existence of the

opportunity to duplicate the baseline scenario in Delaware or Virginia, depreciation of a

Maryland facility may be calculated from these cost of production numbers.


If, as we have assumed, the broiler house facility is duplicable, then like any

intermediate input in a competitive market, its cost of replacement which is equal to its

use value over time, or the present value of its stream of marginal products, which we

may approximate as

(41) Vh = VMP, / r

or put another way,

(42) VMP = k r

where VMPb is the annual value of marginal product of the broiler house, k is the

cost of replacement, and r is the future discount rate. In this case the long-term interest

rate is an appropriate future discount rate, since it represents the opportunity cost of the

capital sunk into the facility.

An effective animal welfare constraint on cost-minimizing production will have

a dual effect on the value of the facilities marginal product. The first component is a unit

cost of production effect, which depreciates the facility by making its production process

less efficient; the second component is a production effect, which reduces the value of

the facility by limiting the number of inputs (birds set) to the production process and, so,

limiting the volume of production. The reduced present value of annual product plus the

present value of the reduction of annual product, is embedded in the economic value of

the facility (assuming no other use value) and can be expressed as

(43) D =((c,-co)-(co(y, -yo)))/r

where D is depreciation, Co is the baseline long-run cost of production (which also serves

effectively as the value of production, given the zero profits we may assume of the


grower), c, is welfare-constrained cost of production (including the original, sunk cost

of the facility), yo is baseline production, y, is the welfare constrained production, and

r is the future discount rate.

The depreciation of a $138,089 facility under each density requirement is

presented in Table 9. At the 6% long-term interest rate assumed in the model, this

facility will lose 45.3% of its value under a .09 square meters per bird restriction. At

.11 a total loss of economic value is suffered.

TABLE 9. Depreciation of $139,089 Fixed Investment, by density

.05 m' .07 m' Current .09 m2 .11 m

Increase in variable $73,286 $10,075 $0 ($23,906) ($44,790)
Original cost/kg $0.563 $0.563 $0.563 $0.563 $0.563
Change in annual 124,764 16,552 0 (49,117) (98,511)
prod., kg
Depreciation, fixed investment:
At 8%, $ $37,765 $9,413 $0 $46,946 $133,620
At 8%, % 27.3% 6.8% 0.0% 34.0% 96.8%
At 6%, $ $50,354 $12,550 $0 $62,594 $178,160
At 6%, % 36.5% 9.1% 0.0% 45.3% 129.0%
At 4%, $ $75,531 $18,825 $0 $93,891 $267,240
At 4%, % 54.7% 13.6% 0.0% 68.0% 193.5%

The impact of such depreciation on the facility's economic life depends upon its

natural economic depreciation. Whenever age and technical obsolescence pushed the

house's value of marginal product below zero, production would cease.


The impacts upon Maryland's broiler sector in the aggregate could be substantial.

Assuming the model to be representative of Maryland broiler production, the fixed

investment for the state's 690,000 tons of production in 1995 was about $278,000,000.

The depreciation calculated from the model's results would translate into depreciation of

$101.5 million at .05 square meters per bird, $125.9 million at .09, and $278 million (or

100% of investment) at .11.

This means that a restriction of. 11 square meters per bird would make production

uneconomic, even considering fixed investment as sunk cost. A .09 square meter

restriction would cause production to cease as each facility's economic depreciation

reached 54.7% of original investment; that is, when the value of its marginal product

falls below 45.3% of its initial value. In the short term, production would be directly

reduced from 690,000 to 582,600 tons at .09 square meters per bird due specifically to

the reduced capacity of the facilities; and, of course, at .11 production would fall to zero.

Regional Economic Impacts

Assuming the baseline unit cost of production as a unit value, a loss in the value

of output delivered to final demand can be calculated and used to estimate impacts on the

Eastern Shore economy, using final-demand multipliers calculated by the Bureau of

Economic Analysis. These multipliers are the output of the Bureau's Regional Input-

Output Modeling System, or RIMS II. They are based on the 1987 Benchmark National

Input-Output Table and 1992 regional data. This means that the basic framework analysis

for the interaction of industries is based on 1987 numbers, and that the numbers input for

Maryland's Eastern Shore were for 1992. (Department of Commerce 1997)


The initial value of 690,000 tons of liveweight broilers, at our estimated baseline

cost of production of $0.563, is $1,709,268. This is the value by which delivery to final

demand is reduced under a .11 square meters constraint. The estimated short-run

production of 582,000 tons at .09 square meters, valued at the same cost of production

(since the national supply is assumed to be infinitely elastic at that price) is worth

$1,441,730,400, a loss of $267,537,600 to delivery to final demand.

In Table 10, output, earnings, and employment coefficients are used to estimate

the multiplied impact upon the Eastern Shore resulting from the loss of delivery to final

demand associated with each effective constraint.

Table 10. Regional Economic Impacts of Constraints on Eastern Shore Broiler Production

Multiplier .09 square .11 square
meter meter
Loss of production, tons 108,000 690,000
Loss of delivery to final demand $267,537,600 $1,709,268,000
Multiplied output effect 2.4233 $648,323,870 $4,142,069,100
Multiplied earnings effect 0.5206 $139,280,070 $889,844,920
Multiplied employment effect 28.8423 7716 49,299

The output multiplier is "the total dollar change in output that occurs in all

industries for each additional dollar of output delivered to final demand" by the poultry

and eggs sector in Maryland's Eastern Shore. The earnings multiplier is "the total dollar

change in earnings of households employed by all industries for each additional dollar of

output delivered to final demand" by the sector. The employment multiplier is the


number of jobs in the region directly and indirectly associated with each million dollars

of additional output delivered to final demand by that sector.

According to these estimates, household earnings directly and indirectly dependent

on the broiler industry are equal to 16% of personal income in the eight counties of

Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne's, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester.

(Department of Commerce; see Table 4.) Even the loss of household earnings associated

with the .09 square meter constraint is equal to 2.5% of the region's household earnings.

These are the human costs of animal welfare on the Eastern Shore.

It is to be expected that the impact of a single state's restriction of broiler

production would produce, at most, a short-term consumer impact, under the assumption

that neighboring states face conditions which would differ only by the absence of housing

restrictions, and that these states would increase supply to make up for the potential

Maryland shortfall. In the case of Maryland, this is a reasonable assumption. The

budgets drawn for Delmarva broiler production at the University of Delaware make

neither cost distinctions nor other distinctions among Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia.

(Gempesaw et al. 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994; Bacon et al. 1994). In a oligopsonistic

market, such as contract broiler production, the integrator can impose almost all of the

costs of facility depreciation related to animal welfare upon the grower. Aside from costs

associated with the short-run decline in production capacity, there should be no consumer


Animal Welfare Impacts

These enumerated economic impacts upon humans resulting from animal welfare

restrictions demonstrate one side of the trade-off between human and animal welfare.

The other side, the impact upon chickens raised in broiler production, is more than the

direct impact of conditions changed by mandate.

In the short-run, an index of improved animal welfare can be inferred from the

increase in per animal weight. As discussed above, the animal welfare maximizing

outcome would be appear to be achieved at a density of .09 square meters per bird. The

magnitude of this welfare improvement over any other density can not be determined;

only a welfare ordering can be drawn from the work of Dr. Cravener et al.

Table 11. Inferred Welfare Ordering, by Density, Assuming Equal Bird Numbers2

Square meters per bird Man: Cost (order) Chicken: Body weight (order)
.05 $0.5700 (2) 1895 (4)
.07 $0.5654 (1) 2001 (3)
.09 $0.5773 (3) 2064 (1)
.11 $0.6124 (4) 2055 (2)

However, as Maryland's industry declines as a result of production constraints,

the number of birds benefitting from the new conditions will decline as well, as they are

shifted to unconstrained production facilities in neighboring states. In the long run the

impact upon animal welfare of any state law in isolation will be negligible if it makes

2 If we were negotiating with chickens for one of these arrangements, only .07 and
.09 square meters per bird would be in the Edgeworth core, since neither .05 or .11
would be Pareto optimal among these choices.


production uneconomic. This means, then, that a .11 square meter restriction would have

no impact on the welfare of broiler chickens, since birds grown in other states instead of

Maryland would be raised at the baseline density.

Additional Considerations

The interaction between states' animal welfare restrictions on competing state

industries opens up an new set of considerations to be addressed as a problem in game

theory. Each state's choice of outcomes would be conditioned by each competing state's

decision. For example, the severe restriction of broiler production by both Maryland and

Virginia would, by shifting production to Delaware, greatly increase Delaware's

economic stake in the industry. On the other hand, Delaware's decision would also have

a much greater potential impact on welfare once the other states had closed the door to

existing production methods.

Unlike most other conflicts between animal agriculture and the general population,

such as over odor, noise, or, especially, water quality, animal welfare issues are not, in

principle, a "not in my back yard" concern. One should not expect an animal welfarist

to be satisfied if all the "factory farms" move out of state.

Therefore, if the supporters of such a local measure as a state broiler space

requirement wished to maximize the "welfare" of a large number of birds, they would

most rationally promote a restriction that achieved some balance between individual bird

"welfare" and production profitability, suggesting that a local scale for collective animal

welfare action is conducive to a balanced, perhaps negotiated, compromise. By contrast,


national regulation could adopt the extensive "command and control" approach so popular

with the promoters of ever more collective action. There would be no check on such

regulation except the very diluted check of voter (and contributor) dissatisfaction.

Support for that alternative, Federal regulation, must overcome the considerable

resistance of agriculture's disproportionate representation in the U.S. Senate, a body

whose traditional role is, after all, to give a place to caution in the development of

government. Only Federal regulation, with effective protection for "animal-friendly"

production, would eliminate the state versus state game aspect of the policy decision,

leading, however, to international games of "chicken," if you will.


A man may well bring a horse to the water,
But he cannot make him drinke without he will.
John Heywood (1497-1580)
(Bartlett 1938)

This work was an attempt to trace the animal welfare debate from philosophical

premises, through social and political processes, to economic conclusions.


The desire to find an "intrinsic" basis for universal human rights led some

philosophers to observe that not all men are superior to all animals and that some

animals, therefore, are "intrinsically" entitled to the same rights and considerations as

man. Some argued further that if some animals are entitled to such rights, all must be.

It is this thinking which has largely framed the terms of the debate over animals' place

in human society.

"Intrinsic" definitions must be subjective. They invite such abuses as the Soviet

use of mental asylums to deny the rights of political opponents or, alternatively, the

arbitrary inclusion of the lowest animals which can be (subjectively) judged as the

"intrinsic" equal of the most debilitated human.


Rights, and all morality, must be defined in functional terms. The clear and

undeniably objective definition of the human species from other species can functionally

define rights-holders so that, on the one hand, all humans may be confident of their place

and, on the other, the social contract is not extended to other species who cannot be

reasonably expected to contribute by their voluntary participation. No system of rights

is sustainable which does not work, so workability must be a priority in discussing

systems of rights.

It should be understood, therefore, that the sustainability of any system of

protections for animals must be grounded in whatever human ends are served by those

protections. If we protect animals, it is, quite reasonably, because we derive short and

long-term benefits from doing so; if we do not, it is, just as reasonably, because we find

that the costs outweight those benefits. For this reason economic analyses of the human

costs associated with animal protections are not only justified, but must be the basis for

any informed decision on animal welfare.

Social and Political Processes

Public choice theory, by applying economic methods to political processes, offers

useful analyses of those processes. A brief consideration of demographic and

constitutional issues in this work leads to a conclusion about the type of jurisdiction which

is most likely to implement pioneering animal welfare measures. Such a jurisdiction

contains a committed animal welfare movement depending upon a constitutional

arrangement which allows the weak preference of an urban and suburban majority to


decide the issue against the large stake of an agricultural minority. Maryland is such a

jurisdiction, so her Eastern Shore broiler industry could be a subject of such pioneering

measures. For this reason, and because the contract-oriented structure of the broiler

industry appears to represent the future of other animal industries, economic analysis of

the effects of such measures in this context can both meet a more or less immediate

purpose and demonstrate a methodology for considering animal welfare in other animal


Economic Theory

An economic theory of animal welfare has been lacking; this work proposes one

such theory. It is a tenet of economic theory that welfare cannot be directly compared

among individuals; this holds, presumably, for animals as well as humans. However, just

as economic historians have settled on the size of human remains as a proxy for human

welfare across time and place, so may we settle upon per animal productivity as a proxy

for the well-being of animals, certainly within a homogeneous genetic stock and under

similar conditions. High productivity is closely correlated with a general state of good

health, to which all definitions of animal welfare defer, but which is not itself easily

quantifiable. It is also important to recall that any such measure of welfare can only be

a relative index, and not an absolute measure, of each animal's (or each person's)

welfare. To the extent that we choose to aggregate welfare across animals, we are

assuming them to be identical. This is not an unreasonable assumption in many animal

production contexts.


Per animal productivity is only one among several rough indices of animals'

physical well-being. It is at least as good as the rest, and has the analytical benefit that

it may be integrated into the framework of economic production analysis. In this

framework we can make direct comparisons of production systems in terms of both the

per-animal productivity and the unit cost of animal output.

Results and Suggestions for Further Research

The results of the quantitative analysis in this work bear out the theoretical

conclusions. There is some trade-off between animal welfare and human costs, although

their optima may be closer together than is believed. The methods of this quantitative

analysis can, with little difficulty be adapted to analysis of any animal welfare measure

whose impact on the production function is understood. Application to a profit-

maximizing firm in other meat production industries is more complicated, but is standard

to production economics, with only the innovation of observing per animal productivity

as an index of welfare.

Additional thought must be given to the changes in animal genetics. As breeding

and new genetic technologies take each animal farther from the genetic composition

defined by evolution, body weight and reproductive success require closer examination

as measures of welfare in an evolutionary context. The reshaping of animals by man

does, after all, complicate this analysis.


The scientific economist, if he has done his job well, may lead his audience to

understand their choices among the uses of scarce resources. However, just as the mare

will not be watered except by her own choice, so that audience needs the economist to

get out of their way when he is done and let them decide for themselves.

This work, aspiring to a properly scientific economics, will not attempt to reach

a conclusion on the subjective choice at the heart of the work, the choice of a role for

animals in human society. This research has attempted to frame a human choice in

rational terms, so that it might be made with open eyes. This framing, however, bears

some brief comment.

The philosophies driving and defining much of the popular debate on animal

welfare do not have a rational basis. Humanity should not continue to accept

unquestioned premises as the basis for so important a moral development. If a more

rational course has been defined by the recycling within these pages of old and forgotten

considerations of man and nature, so much the better.

Nevertheless, however rational such a course may be, those who do not choose

to follow it can not simply be ignored. If their numbers are large enough, they must be

considered in the calculus of collective action; this is pragmatism. Those who would

bury their heads in the sand, hoping such a movement as animal welfarism will go away

on its own may find themselves particularly exposed.

With regard to economic science, animal welfare may be seen as a great exposer

of weak methodology and weaker assumptions. The assumptions made by many


regarding the interpersonal comparability of human welfare are even more clearly shown

to be untenable in the light of its perfect analogy to comparisons among members of

different species. If, similarly, the presentation of this analogy helps to discredit the

demonstrably flawed elements of welfare economics as generally practiced, so much the


Finally, if this work successfully encourages a more sober balancing of what man

has to gain and what he has to lose from offering more to the animals with whom he

shares the planet, so much the better.


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Roger Cryan was raised by his parents, Martin and Meike Cryan, in Grahamsville,

N.Y. He received a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from The Johns Hopkins

University in 1987. A long graduate career at the University of Florida has been

punctuated by work for the Cities of Waldo and Gainesville, Florida, the Volunteer

Center of Alachua County, and the World Bank. His current position with the Atlanta

Milk Market Administrator will, he hopes, lead to bigger and better things.

The two most important events in his life have been his wedding to Regina Pana

on June 2, 1992, and the birth of his daughter, Eli Pana Cryan, on September 2, 1996.

I certify that I have ready this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Thomas Spreen, Chair
Professor of Food and Resource Economics

I certify that I have ready this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

R. JeHey Burkhardt
Professor of Food and Resource Economics

I certify that I have ready this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
6- QC9LV-a
Rodney L. Cl uer
Professor of Food and Resource Economics

I certify that I have ready this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Professor of Food and Resource Economics

I certify that I have ready this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of tor of Philosophy.

David Mulkey
Professor of Food and Resource Economics

I certify that I have ready this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of D-..Tr T5 P hloso hy. /

lay/A. Bucklin
P6ofessor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the College of
Agriculture and the Graduate School and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of Doctor of Phi ophy.

December 1997
/Dean, College of Agriculture

Dean, Graduate School

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