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A survey to investigate the influence of commercial human-animal interaction during rearing on the welfare and subsequent production of the dairy heifer

  • C. Bertenshaw (a1), P. Rowlinson (a1) and M. Ness (a1)

Extract

Recent increases in mechanisation, a trend towards larger dairy units and current financial pressure on dairy farmers all combine to result in a reduction in labour and therefore time available to spend with the animals. increasing numbers of stock per attendant allowing them less time and opportunity to spend with their animals. If we view the reduction in human-animal interaction in routine husbandry tasks as positive because it frees up more quality time to spend with the stock; how will this best be spent to enhance the animal-worker bond, is it feasible in a practical situation and can we back this ideal up with monetary values and benefits to the different interested parties of the industry? This survey was designed to compliment some experimental work being carried out at Newcastle University (see companion paper). The objective was to gather information from dairy farmers on the heifer rearing systems currently in use; establish the different levels of human interaction the heifer experiences during rearing in commercial practice and explore whether this relates to other indices of welfare and production.

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