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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Employee management and animal care: a comparative ethnography of two large-scale dairy farms in China Chen, Maria


Farm management can directly and indirectly affect animal care. I explored how farm management affected animal care on 2 large dairy farms in China (anonymized as Farm A and Farm B). I used a mini-ethnographic case study design, living for 38 days on Farm A and 23 days on Farm B. I conducted participant observation and ethnographic interviews with farm staff positions within 5 departments in Farm A and 6 departments in Farm B. In addition, I conducted 13 semi-structured interviews (7 on Farm A; 6 on Farm B). I used template analysis to generate key themes. On both farms, workers believed that animal care practices had improved over time, due to 3 key employee management factors: 1) organizational culture, 2) competency of worker and management, and 3) an effective incentive system. These results suggest that animal care may be improved in this context by: 1) promoting a culture in which workers have ‘grit’ and are eager to learn, 2) ensuring basic worker wellbeing, and 3) using animal care outcomes as performance indicators linked to pay.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International