What about the calves? How society perceives dairy farming

In: Know your food
Authors:
I. Christoph-Schulz
Search for other papers by I. Christoph-Schulz in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
P. Salamon
Search for other papers by P. Salamon in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
, and
D. Weible
Search for other papers by D. Weible in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close

Purchase instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):

$40.00

Animal husbandry has a prominent role in discussions about ethics in food production. This may be compounded by the increasing criticism towards the present system for agriculture and food production in media and public discussions during the last years. Since most consumer studies focus on production systems regarding pig and poultry, this paper examines society’s perspective regarding dairy farming and addresses if it is ethically correct separating the calves from their dam of origin. The study aims to give orientation to farmers as well as policy-makers about the societal point of view. Six focus groups are carried out in three German cities to capture a variety of opinions and concerns among the population: perception and expectation of the participants regarding dairy farming in general and the separation of the calves from their mothers are particularly discussed. Results show that participants’ perception is differentiated. It is well distinguished between big farms that are described as industries, where the cows have insufficient space, and small farms of part-time farmers. In the latter case it is assumed that the cows have more space. It is explicitly criticised that the cows get more and more concentrated feed to enhance the milk yield. With respect to the calves, some participants harshly criticized that the calves are separated after birth from their mothers. It is argued that cows will lose their motivation for lactation if the calves are separated. It is also assumed that milk quantity as well as quality is affected. Participants assume that today’s cows are not able to suckle the calves due to the intensive breeding. The knowledge about rearing calves is rather low and participants are uncertain about common practices.

  • Collapse
  • Expand

Know your food

Food ethics and innovation