What is the benefit of organically-reared dairy cattle? Societal perception towards conventional and organic dairy farming

Inken Christoph-Schulz, Petra Salamon, Daniela Weible


During the last years, current systems in agriculture and food production have been topic in public discussions. Especially modern animal husbandry seems not to match consumers’ or societal needs any longer. This paper concentrates on the society’s perspective regarding dairy farming in general and diverting perceptions and expectations with respect to dairy cattle either reared organically or reared conventionally. It aims to give orientation to farmers as well as policymakers about the societal point of view of dairy farming.
Six focus groups were carried out in three German cities to capture the scope of opinions and expectations among the population. Three of those groups consisted of participants buying mainly organic food while the other three comprised citizens buying mainly conventional food.
With respect to society’s perception of today’s dairy farming results showed that participants put emphasis on the following topics: the space for each cow was considered as insufficient and not species-appropriate, assumed application of medications as too high, and in particular the prophylactic use of antibiotics as problematic.
Asked about perceived differences between organic versus conventional farming it became obvious that organic in contrast to the conventional farming was perceived as more species-appropriate. More or less, all previously criticized aspects seem to be regarded as irrelevant in organic farming. Some participants showed a very romantic view of organic dairy farming. The most critical point was an assumed high rate of rogue traders among organic farmers.


society; dairy farming; perception; expectations; ecologically

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18461/ijfsd.v6i3.632

ISSN 1869-6945


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