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Is it just about grazing? UK citizens have diverse preferences for how dairy cows should be managed

Jackson, Amy; Green, Martin; Millar, Kate; Kaler, Jasmeet


Amy Jackson

Professor of Cattle Health & Epidemiology

Professor of Applied Bioethics

Professor of Epidemiology & Precision Livestock Informatics


© 2020 American Dairy Science Association Conflicting views between the dairy industry and the public about how dairy cows should be managed, together with an increase in the availability of alternatives to dairy foods, challenge future markets for milk producers. Members of the public value animal welfare as well as naturalness and grazing, but neither the relative importance of specific aspects of management nor the diversity of views underlying these preferences have been established. To better understand these issues, 2,054 UK citizens recruited through a research panel took part in an online survey. They were asked to rank 17 attributes relating to dairy cow management and milk production through the novel application of best–worst scaling, a discrete choice methodology that allows a trade-off between items. Hierarchical Bayesian analysis of the results revealed 3 attributes of equal top importance: (1) access to grazing, (2) cow health and welfare, and (3) cow comfort. Alongside this overarching ranking, underlying differences in preferences were identified in 6 approximately equally sized citizen groups within the sample, which were identified through latent class analysis. Each latent class expressed significantly different priorities from the other, and each had different indicative sociodemographic, attitudinal, experiential, and value-oriented characteristics, as established through a multinomial logistic model. If the diversity of preference between the citizen groups found in the sample is reflected within wider populations, there may be opportunities for the dairy industry to improve communication about positive practices, develop new dairy product markets, and consider changes to dairy farming systems to better meet different citizens' needs. Furthermore, the defining characteristics and priorities of each group raise the question of whether grazing in particular, but also other attributes presented within the study, is understood in different ways by different subgroups of citizens.


Jackson, A., Green, M., Millar, K., & Kaler, J. (2020). Is it just about grazing? UK citizens have diverse preferences for how dairy cows should be managed. Journal of Dairy Science, 103(4), 3250-3263.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 29, 2019
Online Publication Date Feb 11, 2020
Publication Date Apr 1, 2020
Deposit Date Apr 7, 2020
Publicly Available Date Feb 12, 2021
Journal Journal of Dairy Science
Print ISSN 0022-0302
Electronic ISSN 1525-3198
Publisher American Dairy Science Association
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 103
Issue 4
Pages 3250-3263
Keywords Food Science; Animal Science and Zoology; Genetics
Public URL
Publisher URL


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