Small-scale and backyard livestock owners needs assessment in the western United States

Alda De Andrade E Pires, Amos Peterson, Jerome N. Baron, Ragan Adams, Beatriz Martinez Lopez, Dale Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The number of small-scale and backyard livestock and poultry owners in urban and peri-urban areas has increased greatly over the last 10 years in the U.S. However, these animal owners may live in areas without access to livestock and/or poultry veterinary care. The purpose of this study was to identify potential veterinary service needs of these animal owners in the western US, assess their use of management and husbandry practices with regards to disease prevention, and assess their attitudes about animal health and food safety. A semi-structured survey was made available to small-scale and backyard livestock and poultry owners in Washington State, California, Colorado and Oregon. The survey instrument included questions about types of animals reared, uses of the animals, veterinary services and information-seeking behaviors of owners, attitudes on animal health and food safety, and management practices. Four hundred thirty-five individuals completed at least some portion of the survey. Most described themselves as living in rural areas (76%). Most (86%) owned chickens, 53% owned small ruminants, and 31% owned cattle. Many individuals owned more than one species and most had fewer than 20 animals of a given species. About 74% of respondents utilized their animals’ products for their own consumption but 48% sold animal products (primarily through internet sales (35%) or farmers’ markets (25%)). Overwhelmingly, respondents gained information about animal health (82%) and animal treatment procedures (71%) from the internet. Respondents reported their veterinarian’s practice type as companion animal (26%) or a mixed animal or food animal predominant (66%). Overall, respondents were very satisfied with the level of care (82%), but 43% had not sought animal health care in last 12 months. However, the veterinarian’s primary practice type and owner’s satisfaction with veterinary care were associated with their location (state), species owned, and urban or peri-urban setting. Livestock species type (cattle, small ruminants and swine), and use (personal or commercial) were associated with implementation of different biosecurity practices. The results of this survey highlight some of the needs of these animal owners for veterinary care and information which are location- and species-specific. Veterinary care for these small-scale and backyard animals is vital to the health and welfare of the animals as well as for identification of zoonoses and assurance of the food safety of animal products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0212372
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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