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Exploring Stock Managers' Perceptions of the Human-Animal Relationship on Dairy Farms and an Association with Milk Production

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Catherine Douglas, Dr Peter Rowlinson


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A human's attitude towards animals influences their behavior around animals, thus affecting the quality of the human-animal relationship (HAR). Many scientific studies have demonstrated that cattle's fear-response to humans affects their productivity, behavior, and welfare. In the scientific literature thus far it is believed that fear of humans is the predominant relationship on dairy farms. Via a postal questionnaire, we gathered subjective information from 516 stock managers on reported indicators of the HAR and their opinions of the HAIR on UK dairy farms. We found that only 21% of farmers believed that dairy cattle were tearful Of humans. Respondents accepted that humans can have an impact on cattle temperament, as 48% of respondents attributed a cow's docility to previous human contact and reasons given for poor milking temperament included previous negative experiences with humans (9%). Ninety percent of respondents thought cows had feelings, and 78% thought cows were intelligent. Higher heifer milk yields (>= 200 liters) were found in herds where the stock manager thought it important to know every individual animal, although this was only a trend (p = 0.14). On farms where cows were called by name, milk yield was 258 liters higher than on farms where this was not the case (p

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bertenshaw C, Rowlinson P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Anthrozoos

Year: 2009

Volume: 22

Issue: 1

Pages: 59-69

ISSN (print): 0892-7936

ISSN (electronic): 1753-0377

Publisher: Berg Publishers


DOI: 10.2752/175303708X390473


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