Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Oral Presentation Session
In 2015, the end of European dairy quotas accelerated the growth of bovine herds in Brittany (France), while the number of farmers continued to decline. In order to cope with more animals, dairy producers were supported by zoo-technicians whose role was to help them optimize production parameters. What might appear as a simple mathematical operation did not add up as the dairy cows could not be reduced to mere figures. Indeed, this “anthropogenic project” (Munster, 2016) has to deal with dairy cows as individual and collective actors. I prefer to think about the dairy herd as an hybrid community of both humans and bovines, based on a specific sociability made of care and co-constitution (Haraway, 2007 ; Porcher, 2011; Lagneaux, 2014). Increasing dairy production changes the relations between humans and bovines as social subjects. Dairy farmers are no longer able to care about each cow as they used to do. In search for more economic efficiency, some of them chose to automatize their milking system. But, sooner or later, the milking robot started providing new data that farmers now had to compare and confront with their intuitive and sensorial knowledge created in intra-action with their animals. Because dairy cows never act as one thinks they will, farmers are now at a risk of being overwhelmed by their own technological constellation.