The Agricultural & Horticultural Development Board (AHDB), in association with FACE (Farming and Countryside Education), recently commissioned research into current perceptions of children aged 7-15 on food, farming and the countryside, which has been used in the development of the AHDB Education Strategy 2012-17. The report produced by CHILDWISE in the summer of 2011, provides an interesting insight into what children think about farms and farmers.

Here are some extracts from the report:

“53% of 7-11 year olds have been to a farm with their family, and 36% have visited with their school. Among those who had visited, more than half said that they most enjoyed seeing the animals (53%), reinforcing the perception that for many children, farming is primarily about looking after animals, with other activities secondary to this.”

“For those aged 11-15, the focus of farming relates primarily to the care of animals, with other skills secondary to this. 71% rate animal care as a skill that farmers need most.”

“Children across the age range were asked how they would describe the British countryside. The majority of responses to this question across the age range were positive. More than seven in ten children aged 7-11 refer to the fresh air (73%) and the opportunity to visit and go for walks (72%). It is also a place for wildlife to live, and farm animals live there (both 68%), whilst slightly fewer refer to the fact that food and crops grow there (66%).”

“More than three out of five secondary aged children describe the aesthetic qualities of the countryside, including that it is a big, open space (64%), it is green (63%) and it has fresh air (62%) – see chart 4.3.1b. The main function that children this age associate with the countryside is that farm animals live there (60%), and it is a place for wildlife to live (59%), also that food / crops grow there (57%). In rural areas, children aged 11-15 were more likely to recognise the countryside as a place for farm animals to live (72%),”

These responses from children indicate that the image of cows and other farm animals in our countryside and on our farms is a very strong one. Furthermore, it is very apparent that children widely regard farmers as people who care for animals – “71% rate animal care as a skill that farmers need most”

Free Range Dairy will help children and adults to understand the reasons why grazing dairy herds have always been a part of our rural landscape and promote the skills required to care for cows. It is vital that we do this if we are to make animal welfare, environmental impact and the nutritional value of our milk ‘mainstream values’ in the minds of consumers, alongside price and convenience.

You can read the report in full at


Leave a Reply