The primary aim of this study was to explore attitudes of urban Brazilian citizens about dairy production. A secondary aim was to determine their knowledge and attitudes about four potentially contentious routine dairy cattle management practices: early cow-calf separation; zero-grazing; culling of newborn male calves; and dehorning without pain mitigation. To address the first aim 40 participants were interviewed using open-ended semi-structured questions designed to probe their views and attitudes about dairy production in Brazil, and 300 participants answered a questionnaire that included an open-ended question about the welfare of dairy cattle. Primary concerns reported by the participants centered on milk quality, which included the rejection of any chemical additives, but also animal welfare, environmental and social issues. The interviewees rarely mentioned animal welfare directly but, when probed, expressed several concerns related to this topic. In particular, participants commented on factors that they perceived to influence milk quality, such as good animal health, feeding, clean facilities, and the need to avoid or reduce the use of drugs, hormones and pesticides, the avoidance of pain, frustration and suffering, and the ability of the animals to perform natural behaviors. To address our second aim, participants were asked questions about the four routine management practices. Although they self-reported being largely unaware of these practices, the majority of the participants rejected these practices outright. These data provide insight that animal welfare may be an important issue for members of the public. Failure to consider this information may increase the risk that certain dairy production practices may not be socially sustainable once lay citizens become aware of them.
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