The welfare of dairy cattle: Perspectives of industry stakeholders

Beth Ventura, M. A.G. von Keyserlingk, D. M. Weary

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


The aim of the current study was to describe the perspectives of stakeholders within the dairy industry on key issues affecting the welfare of dairy cattle. A secondary aim was to examine if these stakeholders believed that people outside of the industry should also have a voice in formulating solutions to these issues. Five heterogeneous focus groups were conducted during a dairy cattle industry meeting in Guelph, Canada in October 2012. Each group contained between 7-10 participants and consisted of a mix of dairy producers, veterinarians, researchers, students, and industry specialists. The 1-h facilitatorled discussions focused on participants' perceptions of the key welfare issues and the role of different stakeholder groups in addressing these concerns. Discussions were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim, and the resulting transcripts coded and the themes identified. Lameness was uniformly recognized as the most important welfare issue facing dairy cattle; cow comfort, painful procedures (like dehorning) and production diseases (like mastitis) were also commonly discussed. Participants had mixed views on the roles of different stakeholders in formulating solutions. Most felt that producers and others working within the dairy industry (particularly veterinarians) should be primarily responsible, but many participants acknowledged that the general public, as consumers and as citizens, also play an important role. Participants seemed to focus on a two-fold knowledge deficit - first between researchers and producers, and second between dairy industry groups and the public - and agreed that improved knowledge translation was required to develop solutions to welfare concerns. These results indicate that many people within the dairy industry see value in more inclusive engagement with non-industry stakeholders about dairy cattle welfare. Future work will assess perspectives of people outside of the dairy industry to identify areas of shared concern and provide a basis for policy solutions that better incorporate societal values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Ethics of Consumption
Subtitle of host publicationThe Citizen, the Market and the Law
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9789086867844
ISBN (Print)9789086862313
StatePublished - Aug 29 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal welfare
  • Dairy cattle
  • Engagement
  • Stakeholder attitudes


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