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European organic dairy farmers’ preference for animal health management within the farm management system

  • F. J. S. van Soest (a1), M. C. M. Mourits (a1) and H. Hogeveen (a1) (a2)
Abstract

The expertise and knowledge of veterinary advisors on improving animal health management is key towards a better herd health status. However, veterinary advisors are not always aware of the goals and priorities of dairy farmers. To dairy farmers animal health is only one aspect of farm management and resources may be allocated to other more preferred areas. Veterinary advisors may experience this as non-compliant with their advice. To explore the preferences of European Union (EU) organic dairy farmers for improved animal health management relative to other farm management areas an adaptive conjoint analysis (ACA) was performed. A total of 215 farmers participated originating from organic dairy farms in France (n=70), Germany (n=60), Spain (n=28) and Sweden (n=57). The management areas udder health and claw health represented animal health management whereas barn, calf and pasture management represented potential conflicting management areas. Results indicate that EU organic dairy farmers differ in their preferences for improved animal health management within the farming system. In general, improved calf management was the most preferred area and improved claw health management was found to be least preferred, the remaining areas were of intermediate interest. Cluster analyses on claw health measures and udder health measures resulted in respectively seven and nine distinct preference profiles. The results indicate a high degree of variation in farmers’ preference, which cannot be explained by the typical herd characteristics. With the individual preferences revealed by ACA, a veterinary advisor can now find out whether his intended advice is directed at a favourable or unfavourable management area of the farmer. If the latter is the case the veterinarian should first create awareness of the problem to the farmer. Insights in individual farmers preferences will allow veterinary advisors to better understand why farmers were incompliant with their advice and improve their advice by showing, for example, the potential benefits of their advice.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
E-mail: felix.vansoest@wur.nl
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