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Stockperson Attitudes Linked To Dairy Cow Welfare And Production

12 April 2011

Animal Bytes

Stock people with high levels of empathy and job satisfaction and low negative beliefs result in higher milk yields.

There’s no evidence of a direct link between stockperson personality and milk yield, but it does appear that attitudes are important.

“And our study, in conjunction with previous research, suggests that the attitude of the stockperson may be related to the subsequent milk yield they obtain,” said Queens University’s Donncha Hanna, who led a team of scientists who investigated the relationships among personality traits and attitudes of 311 dairy stockpeople and the milk yield they obtained.

A questionnaire pack consisting of a big-five measure of personality (which includes the traits of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability and intellect), a four-factor attitude questionnaire and associated demographic and production questions was posted out to Northern Ireland dairy farmers.

Correlations were used to assess the relationship between personality and attitudes and partial correlations were calculated between milk yield and these psychometric measures. And the work showed that the personality traits of agreeableness and conscientiousness were most strongly correlated to positive attitudes towards working with dairy cows.

None of the stockpeople’s personality traits were significantly correlated with the milk yield they obtained. Three of the attitude scales, however, were significantly correlated with milk yield; milk yield was related to higher levels of empathy and job satisfaction and lower levels of negative beliefs.

“These findings, along with previous research, suggest stockperson attitudes may be important in relation to dairy cow welfare and production,” said Dr Hanna.

“And one application from these findings would be to use attitudes to select employees into the dairy industry and also to identify those individuals who may benefit from training. Making individuals aware of their own attitudes and personality may provide insights to address weaknesses in their own stockpersonship,” he added.

April 2011

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