This paper describes the perspectives of stakeholders within the North American dairy industry on key issues affecting the welfare of dairy cattle. Five heterogeneous focus groups were held during a dairy cattle welfare meeting in Guelph, Canada in October 2012. Each group contained between 7 and 10 participants (n = 46 total subjects) and consisted of a mix of dairy producers, veterinarians, academics, students, and dairy industry specialists. The 1-h facilitated discussions were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Content analysis of the resulting transcripts showed that participants across all stakeholder categories identified lameness as the most important welfare issue facing dairy cattle. Other prominent issues of concern included cow comfort, disease, on-farm mortality, stockmanship, painful procedures, injuries, cull cow management, calf management, and restriction of behavioural freedoms. Participants typically gave several reasons for why they considered issues problematic. Underlying reasons were grouped according to animal-centered concerns [at both the individual (e.g. pain and stress) and at the herd level (e.g. prevalence of condition)] and industry-centered concerns (e.g. production and economic repercussions, impact on public perception of the dairy industry). This analysis identified areas of shared concern among diverse stakeholder groups, which should aid in the development of standards and policies that satisfy stakeholders within and external to the dairy industry.
- Dairy cattle
- Focus group