Healthier cows linked to better farmer well-being

Dairy cows, photo credit: Kendra Snaith

A first-ever study, funded by CCSAW and led by Dr. Trevor DeVries with lead author Dr. Megan King, has discovered that dairy herd health may be linked to the farmer’s mental well-being.

The research team focused on farms with robotic milking systems, and assessed management practices, cow health and milk production, and farmers’ self-reported mental well-being. Cattle welfare was linked to better farmer well-being, and farmer stress and anxiety were higher on farms with more severely lame cows. Farmers who worked mostly alone also reported higher anxiety and depression.

King notes that poor mental health may be related to low levels of adoption of animal welfare stewardship and suggests that promoting farmers’ mental health may help improve animal welfare. This, says King, fits with the “One Welfare” approach to understanding animal welfare.

In previous research, DeVries found that farmers adopting robotic milkers reported better quality of life, improved herd health and management, and higher profits.

Read the full story on the UoG website and in The Globe and Mail.

The original paper on this work is published in Animal Welfare.

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