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Some jurisdictions permit on-farm emergency slaughter (OFES) as one end-of-life option for dairy cows and other animals that cannot be transported humanely but are deemed fit for human consumption. Anecdotal reports suggest that OFES is controversial among dairy industry professionals, but to date their perceptions of OFES have not been studied systematically. Twentyfive individual interviews and 3 focus groups with 40 dairy producers, veterinarians, and other professionals in British Columbia, Canada, revealed positive and negative perceptions of OFES influenced by (1) individual values, (2) the perceived operational legitimacy of OFES, and (3) concern over social responsibility and public perception of the dairy industry. Study participants valued cow welfare but were divided on whether OFES quickened or delayed death for injured animals. Views on the operational legitimacy of OFES varied because of different perceptions and concerns regarding regulatory, veterinary, and meat inspector oversight, a possible conflict of interest for veterinarians, and concerns over carcass hygiene and transport. Whereas many appreciated that OFES prevented transport of compromised cows, others saw OFES as merely a stopgap measure. Seven recommended actions could address concerns while retaining the benefits of OFES: (1) specifying precise timing parameters for OFES, (2) clarification of allowable cow conditions for OFES, (3) consultation with dairy industry professionals if OFES is to be expanded, (4) more proactive culling and the development of euthanasia protocols on farms, (5) the designation of veterinarians as the first point of contact in the OFES process, (6) veterinarian training on animal inspection and allowable conditions for OFES, and (7) the use of proper procedures and equipment during the OFES process to ensure food safety.


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