Perception of sheep welfare and sentience by citizens, veterinarians, biologists and animal scientists of Curitiba, Parana, Brazil

We compared the perception of citizens (C), veterinarians (V), biologists (B) and animal scientists (A) from Curitiba, Parana, Brazil, regarding sheep welfare and sentience. Knowledge about animal welfare in C (15.2%) differed from V (0.0%), B (1.1%) and A (0.0%), in terms of respondents who did not know about the subject (P<0.01). Animal welfare was defined mainly considering terms related to Freedom from fear and distress, Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition and Freedom from discomfort. C and B differed from V and A on the perception of farm animal welfare, as C and B believed that welfare is not or less considered for farm animals (P<0.05). In addition, C and V showed higher perception of association between higher levels of animal welfare and productivity than B and A (P<0.05). The perception of sheep sentience did not differ among respondents (P>0.05). When asked about sheep suffering caused by management practices, in general, V and A attributed lower scores of suffering, when compared to C and B (P<0.05). The results suggest that C and B, and V and A, have similar perceptions on the consideration of welfare for farm animals and sheep suffering. The respondents showed similar perceptions of sheep sentience.