Democs Game : Cattle Breeding: what should we do next?

The development of cattle breeding using the tools of genomic selection is usually confined to experts in the field, but what priorities should be set for these breeding goals, and who should decide? As part of BovReg we wish to enable lay publics to consider animal-breeding technologies and share their perspectives and insights. One way we are doing this by creating and playing a Democs card game as a participative tool for public engagement, to explore perspectives from civil society and selected stakeholders on animal breeding technologies.Democs is a group discussion game for 4-8 people, in which specially written cards provide information and stimulate ethical debate, and participants are invited to form and write their own opinions. Democs is designed to be played anywhere, by anyone. All you need is a kit, about six to eight people (though you can play with more or less), a table and an hour and a half to two hours. You don’t need to know anything about the topic to run a game and the rules are simple and easy to understand. Democs has been a proven tool for grassroots engagement since 2002, on many issues from cloning to climate change.This cattle breeding Democs game has been written and developed by two partners in the BovReg Project, Edinethics director Dr Donald Bruce and Dr Ann Bruce, senior lecturer in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh and is being played with laypeople in the UK, Finland, Germany and France. It is open to be used in other countries. For more information, contact us by email. It is freely available to all, available as boxed sets and for downloading, by following the link below. Democs games are made available under a Creative Commons licence.

Upload the Results of playing the game at:

Download and Play the Cattle Breeding Democs Game

If you would like to explore these issues and have a group of friends, neighbours, family or workmates who’d like to have a go, you have two options. You can download the cards here, free, and print them out for yourself. The game is also available in a limited number of hard copies in a small box, with all the cards and full instructions. It’s free, as part of the BovReg research project. Send us your address and we’ll post it to you.

Downloading the cards

You can download the whole game from this website, free, and print it out for yourself. There are 11 files to download, or you can download them all as a zip

Printing the cards

Having downloaded the 11 files, you will need to print them out. The Information and Issue Cards printouts will  then need to be cut them into individual cards. A guillotine may help The Instruction Booklet, Voting sheets, Feedback form, Consent form and Participant Information Sheet can be printed on ordinary paper. For Yellow and Blank cards you can just use a blank yellow and a white card, respectively, and cut it to size.We suggest that the Information, Issue and Story Cards can be printed one of two ways :

  • Printing in black and white on to card of 120 – 160 gsm weight, using pale green card for Info Cards; pale blue for Issue Cards; pink for Story Cards, and white for Cluster Cards.
  • Printing these cards in colour on semi-gloss photo paper.

If you want to Play it Again? – the Extra Cards you’ll need

If you have played the game and want to play it again with another group of people, you can re-use the Story, Information and Issue Cards, and the Instructions, but you will need to print out 4 new Cluster Cards, 8 Voting Sheets (1 each per player), and a Group Feedback form. You can download them here:

Cluster Cards (1 set of 4 cards on 1 A4 page)
Voting Sheets (3 A4 sheets, 8 per game)
Group Feedback form(1 per game, filled for the group in by the dealer)

Democs game presentations:

EurSafe2022 conference – Transforming Food Systems: Ethics, Innovation and Responsibility. September 7 – 8 2022, Edinburgh.

Donald Bruce (Edinethics) – Bringing animal ethics down to earth? Playing a Democs card game on cattle breeding

Cattle Breeding Game in Other LanguagesThe game is written in English, but recognising that discussion works best in one’s ‘mother tongue’, three other translations are now available.Finnish version is available as a boxed set in hard copy. For more information, contact terhi.iso-touru@luke.fiGerman version: is available upon request to hartwig@fbn-dummerstorf.deFrench version: for more information, contact

Further links:

Edinethics Democs page

German version: Rinderzucht: Was sollten wir als Nächstes tun?

German version: Ergebnisse des Democs Spiels

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