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Many cull dairy cows enter the marketing system and travel to widely dispersed and specialized slaughter plants, and they may experience multiple handling events (e.g., loading, unloading, mixing), change of ownership among dealers, and feed and water deprivation during transport and at livestock markets. The objectives of this study were to describe the diverse management of cull dairy cows in Canada and establish consensus on ways to achieve improvements. A 2-day expert consultation meeting was convened, involving farmers, veterinarians, regulators, and experts in animal transport, livestock auction, and slaughter. The 15 participants, recruited from across Canada, discussed regional management practices for cull cattle, related risk factors, animal welfare problems, and recommendations. An audio recording of the meeting was used to extract descriptive data on cull cattle management and identify points of agreement. Eight consensus points were reached: (1) to assemble information on travel times and delays from farm to slaughter; (2) to increase awareness among producers and herd veterinarians of potential travel distances and delays; (3) to promote pro-active culling; (4) to improve the ability of personnel to assess animal condition before loading; (5) to identify local options for slaughter of cull dairy cows; (6) to investigate different management options such as emergency slaughter and mobile slaughter; (7) to ensure that all farms and auctions have, or can access, personnel trained and equipped for euthanasia; and (8) to promote cooperation among enforcement agencies and wider adoption of beneficial regulatory options.


© 2018, The Authors. Published by FASS Inc. and Elsevier Inc. on behalf of the American Dairy Science Association®. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (