Livestock veterinarians have important roles in advancing animal welfare on farms. In the present study, focus groups were used to engage dairy and beef cattle veterinarians and veterinary researchers based primarily in Europe. Discussions were structured to elicit perceptions of welfare issues on cattle farms, as well as the challenges and desired solutions for change. Discussions were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim and content analysis was used to identify participants’ views on animal welfare challenges and solutions. Participants held multi-dimensional conceptions of animal welfare that included animal health, pain and distress, and behaviour. When asked to discuss animal welfare challenges, participants focused on five primary themes: animal welfare definition and assessment, economic barriers, and farmer, veterinarian, and researcher-related challenges. Participants envisioned the following overarching solutions: 1) research to develop better animal welfare assessment, 2) motivating increased adherence to standards via either voluntary incentives or mandatory regulations, and 3) increased communication linkages between stakeholders, primarily in the form of education to farmers and veterinarians.
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We also extend our appreciation to our participants for sharing their time and thoughts so openly with us. We also thank Boehringer Ingelheim (Ingelheim, Germany) and the organizers of the Madrid conference, including Drs. Elke Abbeloos and Laurent Goby. Finally, we thank Drs. D. Fraser and H. Wittman, and C. Sumner for feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript. B.A. Ventura was supported through the University of British Columbia's Doctoral Fellowship Progra m.
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.
- Beef cattle
- Dairy cow