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Consumers’ attitudes about milk quality and fertilization methods in dairy cows in Germany

Pieper, Laura, Doherr, M.G., Heuwieser, W.
Journal of dairy science 2016 v.99 no.4 pp. 3162-3170
attitudes and opinions, calving, dairy cows, dairy farming, embryo transfer, food biotechnology, food production, hormones, interviews, market analysis, milk, milk production, milk quality, people, regression analysis, reproductive efficiency, secondary education, semen, taste, Germany
Major advances in assisted reproductive technologies have improved reproductive efficiency in dairy cattle. However, these developments occurred regardless of the perception of consumers, who often distrust biotechnology in food production. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate consumers’ attitudes toward reproductive management practices in dairy cattle. In November 2012, 1,646 participants were interviewed by a commercial market research institute. Participants were selected from all regions and demographic categories to represent the general public in Germany. Seven questions regarding milk-drinking preferences and reproductive technologies were asked in face-to-face interviews. Descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regression models were used. The majority of people drank milk at least weekly (63%) and found the taste of milk important (60%). Most people perceived advanced reproductive technologies negatively [e.g., the use of sexed semen (53%), embryo transfer (58%), cloning (81%), and hormone treatments to increase fertility (65%)]. Many people lacked basic knowledge about milk production (22% did not know that cows only give milk after calving; 51% did not know that milk naturally contains hormones); however, participants with a high school education, older participants, and those who had concerned themselves with dairy farming were more knowledgeable. Education and providing information might help to inform the public about reproductive management practices in dairy cows.