End-of-life decision-making of dairy cattle and calves: A survey of British farmers and veterinary surgeons



Neary, Joseph MM, Bedford, Cherry and Smith, Robert FF
(2022) End-of-life decision-making of dairy cattle and calves: A survey of British farmers and veterinary surgeons. VETERINARY RECORD OPEN, 9 (1). e51-.

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Abstract

<h4>Background</h4>The study aim was to characterise issues faced by farmers and veterinary surgeons when making end-of-life decisions for dairy cattle.<h4>Methods</h4>Online surveys were distributed to British dairy farmers and veterinary surgeons for 20 weeks from November 2020.<h4>Results</h4>There were 83 responses (37 farmers, 46 veterinary surgeons). Among youngstock, the risk of unassisted/natural death (2.6% ± 0.3%) was almost double the risk of euthanasia (1.4% ± 0.3%; <i>p</i> = 0.003). The opposite, however, was true in the milking herd: the risk of euthanasia (2.3% ± 0.3%) was greater than unassisted/natural death (1.6% ± 0.2%; <i>p</i> = 0.05). A fallen stock collector (62%) typically performed euthanasia and most farms (66%) did not have anyone trained to perform euthanasia. Most deaths within the milking herd were attributed to 'unknown or not recorded' (median 15% of deaths). The factors that farmers most frequently reported as strongly influencing their decision of when to euthanase an animal relative to the onset of disease were 'failure to respond to treatment' (89%), 'veterinary advice' (89%) and 'severity of disease' (88%). On average, veterinarians had moderate or high confidence that 60% of dairy farm clients 'are performing euthanasia in a timely manner so as to prevent unnecessary suffering'. Veterinary surgeons had variable agreement on the time to euthanasia for various conditions.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The survey highlighted end-of life decision-making successes and areas for improvement on dairy farms. An evidence-based, decision-support framework may help end-of-life decision-making, particularly for complex diseases.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 3009 Veterinary Sciences, 30 Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences, 3003 Animal Production
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2022 14:08
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2024 04:01
DOI: 10.1002/vro2.51
Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.1002/vro2.51
Related URLs:
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3166456