Investigation of Cull Dairy Cow Management on Dairy Farms in Ontario
An investigation into cull cow management in Ontario’s dairy industry was conducted for this thesis. More specifically, current management practices of cull cows by Ontario dairy producers, veterinarians’ current recommendations for cull cow management, preferred knowledge translation and transfer methods for both producers and veterinarians, and producers’ attitudes toward management of cull cows were investigated. Two surveys were conducted, one for dairy producers and another for bovine veterinarians, yielding 224 responses and 48 responses, respectively. The surveys questions were grouped into sections regarding demographics of respondents and their clinics/farms, cull cow management, regulations, and educational preferences. Following these, four focus groups were conducted with 21 dairy producers to capture in-depth information about personal and group sentiments related to on cull cow management, current industry and government requirements and recommendations, and preferences in educational tools. Results indicated farmers utilize multiple information sources when making cull cow management decisions including personal experiences and values, and they regularly consult with veterinarians, peers, and family members. Farmers consider recent regulatory changes of little importance to their farm management. Veterinarians are knowledgeable of regulations and recommendations, and desire more involvement in culling decisions on farms. Therefore, there is room for increased use of decision-making tools for culling decisions and cull cow management, communications between farmers and veterinarians regarding cull cows, and uptake of recommendations for culling cows.