American and German attitudes towards cow-calf separation on dairy farms
von Keyserlingk MAG
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Public concerns regarding the quality of life of farm animals are often focused on specific practices such as separating the cow and calf immediately after birth. The available scientific literature provides some evidence in support of this practice (including reduced acute responses to separation when it does occur), as well as evidence of disadvantages (such as increased risk of uterine disease in cows). The aim of this study is to systematically examine public views around this practice. Specifically, this study analyzes the views of American and German citizens to separation of cow and calf at birth using a quantitative segmentation approach. Although the majority of participants opposed early separation, a small proportion of our sample supported the practice. According to participants’ preference for early and later separation and their evaluation of different arguments for both practices, three clusters were identified. US participants were more likely to support early separation compared to German participants. The arguments presented for and against both practices caused different reactions in the three clusters, but did not appear to sway the opinions of most participants. The results show considerable opposition to the practice of early separation in large parts of the sample and suggest that the dairy industry should consider approaches to address this concern.