Assessment of culled dairy cows on farm, and at livestock auction markets in Ontario
This thesis investigated the cull cow sector of the Canadian dairy industry. There is little research investigating the condition of cows sold at auction markets, comparisons of auction market cows to industry standards and federal transport legislation, or what influences a producer’s decision to send a cull cow to auction. A total of 4,460 culled dairy cows were assessed at three Ontario auction markets, according to proAction® industry standards. The main issues identified were low body condition and abnormal gait. These conditions were associated with a significantly lower selling price. Subsequently, 47 dairy producers were provided with culled cow evaluation forms to encourage them to conduct a systematic assessment of each cow leaving their farm. Use of the form increased the time producers spent assessing cows, increased their confidence in related decision-making, and motivated them to use the form for developing their own standard operating procedure for shipping cattle.