The health and welfare of dairy cows are dependent upon the stockpersons who handle, observe and monitor them. The attitudes and behaviour of these people have been little studied, although they are fundamental for the animals' well-being and performance. The results of a series of standardised interviews with 238 dairy stockpersons are discussed. Milking was considered both the most important and the most enjoyed task, and the most disliked task was cleaning the parlour and yards. These attitudes can affect the health of the herd. The stockpersons valued their interaction with animals; ‘a special event involving the cows’ was frequently mentioned as the component of a ‘good’ day, and a ‘bad event involving the cows’ was almost unanimously the factor associated with a ‘bad’ day.