Dairy cattle welfare as a result of human-animal relationship – a review

Open access

Abstract

Despite the various concepts of human-animal relationship, the welfarist approach to this problem is one of the most often considered in theory and used in practice. When dealing with issues related to dairy cattle welfare (DCW), it is necessary to take into account both the reality characteristic for animals used to obtain milk (e.g. the problem of automatic milking of cows) and for slaughter cattle (e.g. slaughter of culled animals). It is not surprising, therefore, that issues related to DCW are the focus of the attention of the public, researchers, breeders as well as the dairy and meat industries. The aim of this article was to possibly most comprehensively cover the above-mentioned issues, although due to its huge scope it was obviously necessary to limit the article to what I think are currently most important issues. That is why in the review I (1) characterized the issues related to the division of human responsibility for DCW; (2) discussed the importance of technology to human-animal relationship; (3) elaborated the matter of stress, emotionality of animals and their cognitive abilities in the aspect of “negative” and “positive” DCW; (4) considered the possibilities of non-invasive assessment of animal welfare in the future and (5) discussed topics related to improving the conditions of the slaughter of animals. In summary, it was proposed paying more attention than has been paid until now, to the assessment of positive DCW in scientific research and breeding practice. I also drew attention to the necessity of reliable information flow on the line of the breeder/milk producer - industry - consumer, as negligence in this area is one of the reasons for public disinformation regarding the level of animal welfare.

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