Welfare Issues on Israeli Dairy Farms: Attitudes and Awareness of Farm Workers and Veterinary Practitioners
Veterinary Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, P.O.B. 12, Bet Dagan, Hamakabim St., Rishon Letzion 7519701, Israel
Israel Cattle Breeders’ Association, P.O.B. 3015, Caesarea Industrial Park 38900, Israel
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
Extension Service, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, P.O.B. 30, Bet Dagan, Hamakabim St., Rishon Letzion 7519701, Israel
Hachaklait Veterinary Services Ltd. Corporation, Bareket St. 20, Caesarea 3097020, Israel
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 8 December 2020 / Revised: 19 January 2021 / Accepted: 20 January 2021 / Published: 24 January 2021
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.