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Article

Welfare Issues on Israeli Dairy Farms: Attitudes and Awareness of Farm Workers and Veterinary Practitioners

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Veterinary Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, P.O.B. 12, Bet Dagan, Hamakabim St., Rishon Letzion 7519701, Israel
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Israel Cattle Breeders’ Association, P.O.B. 3015, Caesarea Industrial Park 38900, Israel
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Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology, The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, P.O.B. 37, Midreshet Ben Gurion 84990, Israel
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Extension Service, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, P.O.B. 30, Bet Dagan, Hamakabim St., Rishon Letzion 7519701, Israel
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Hachaklait Veterinary Services Ltd. Corporation, Bareket St. 20, Caesarea 3097020, Israel
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Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2021, 11(2), 294; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020294
Received: 8 December 2020 / Revised: 19 January 2021 / Accepted: 20 January 2021 / Published: 24 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
Animal welfare science embraces all factors that might affect the physical and emotional state of the animal, its ability to cope, and its overall quality of life. In recent years, awareness of farm animal welfare has increased among veterinary practitioners—a major professional figure influencing a farm’s routine, farm workers, consumers, and the general public. In particular, the farm worker’s knowledge of animal welfare is an essential component of the rearing system. The aim of this study was to examine attitudes toward and awareness of select animal welfare issues among farm workers and practitioners. A survey was performed based on anonymous questionnaires filled out by dairy farm workers and veterinary practitioners. The results demonstrated that farm workers’ enjoyment of their work is of great importance, as is their cows’ welfare. The survey showed the farm workers’ awareness of their influence on the cow during milking, the effects of stress on milk production, and the possible effect of human behavior on heifers and cows. The main areas where animal welfare might be improved were farmers’ awareness of learning, memory, and pain masking in cattle, and knowledge transfer from veterinary practitioners to the farm workers. The survey answers further emphasized the crucial importance of communication and understanding between farm workers and their practitioners.
Attitudes toward practical dairy cow welfare issues were evaluated based on a questionnaire answered by 500 dairy farm workers and 27 veterinary practitioners. Primarily, the effect of demographic characteristics on attitudes toward cattle welfare was tested. Professionally, five themes were identified: effect of welfare awareness on productivity, knowledge of cattle’s senses and social structure, effects of man–animal interactions on milk yield, pain perception and prevention, and knowledge transfer from veterinary practitioners to farm workers. Farms with a higher welfare awareness score also had higher annual milk yield, with an annual mean difference of 1000 L of milk per cow between farms with higher and lower awareness scores. Veterinary practitioners showed high awareness of cows’ social structure, senses, and pain perception. Farm workers were aware of the influence of man–animal interactions during milking and stress effects on milk yield, and the possible effect of man’s behavior on heifers and cows. Practitioners and farm workers had different views regarding pain perception, mostly involving mutilation procedures. All veterinary practitioners advocated the use of pain alleviation in painful procedures, but only some of them instructed the farm workers to administer it. The survey results emphasize the variation in welfare knowledge and practical applications across farms, and the interest of both the animals and their managers to improve applied knowledge of best practice. View Full-Text
Keywords: behavior; dairy cows; farm workers; veterinary practitioners; pain; calves behavior; dairy cows; farm workers; veterinary practitioners; pain; calves
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MDPI and ACS Style

Weyl-Feinstein, S.; Lavon, Y.; Yaffa Kan, N.; Weiss-Bakal, M.; Shmueli, A.; Ben-Dov, D.; Malka, H.; Faktor, G.; Honig, H. Welfare Issues on Israeli Dairy Farms: Attitudes and Awareness of Farm Workers and Veterinary Practitioners. Animals 2021, 11, 294. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020294

AMA Style

Weyl-Feinstein S, Lavon Y, Yaffa Kan N, Weiss-Bakal M, Shmueli A, Ben-Dov D, Malka H, Faktor G, Honig H. Welfare Issues on Israeli Dairy Farms: Attitudes and Awareness of Farm Workers and Veterinary Practitioners. Animals. 2021; 11(2):294. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020294

Chicago/Turabian Style

Weyl-Feinstein, Sarah, Yaniv Lavon, Noa Yaffa Kan, Meytal Weiss-Bakal, Ayelet Shmueli, Dganit Ben-Dov, Hillel Malka, Gilad Faktor, and Hen Honig. 2021. "Welfare Issues on Israeli Dairy Farms: Attitudes and Awareness of Farm Workers and Veterinary Practitioners" Animals 11, no. 2: 294. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020294

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