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Stakeholder views on treating pain due to dehorning dairy calves

By J. A. Robbins, D. M. Weary, C. A. Schuppli, M. A. G. von Keyserlingk

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Abstract

A common and painful management practice undertaken on most dairy farms is dehorning young calves (also called 'disbudding' when done on calves less than about two months of age). Despite much evidence the practice is painful, and effective means available to mitigate this pain, it is frequently performed without pain relief. The overall aim of this study was to describe different stakeholder views on the use of pain mitigation for disbudding and dehorning. Using an interactive, online platform, we asked participants whether or not they believed that calves should be disbudded and dehorned with pain relief and to provide reasons to support their choice. Participant composition was as follows: dairy producer or other farm worker (10%); veterinarian or other professional working with the dairy industry (7%); student, teacher or researcher (16%); animal advocate (9%); and no involvement with the dairy industry (57%). Of 354 participants, 90% thought pain relief should be provided when disbudding and dehorning. This support was consistent across all demographic categories suggesting the industry practice of disbudding and dehorning without pain control is not consistent with normative beliefs. The most common themes in participants' comments were: pain intensity and duration, concerns about drug use, cost, ease and practicality and availability of alternatives. Some of the participants' reasoning corresponded well with existing scientific evidence, but other reasons illustrated important misconceptions, indicating an urgent need for educational efforts targeted at dairy producers and dairy industry professionals advising these producers.

Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 24
Issue 4
Pages 399-406
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
DOI 10.7120/09627286.24.4.399
Language English
Author Address Animal Welfare Program, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.marina.vonkeyserlingk@ubc.ca
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Tags
  1. Animals
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Attitudes
  4. Bovidae
  5. Calves
  6. Cattle
  7. Dehorning
  8. Demography
  9. Drugs
  10. Farms
  11. Humans
  12. Industries
  13. Mammals
  14. Men
  15. Pain
  16. peer-reviewed
  17. Primates
  18. Ruminants
  19. stakeholders
  20. students
  21. ungulates
  22. usage
  23. vertebrates
  24. Veterinarians
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed