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Evaluation of the impact of a Herd Health and Production Management programme in organic dairy cattle farms: a process evaluation approach

  • J. E. Duval (a1), N. Bareille (a1), A. Madouasse (a1), M. de Joybert (a1), K. Sjöström (a2), U. Emanuelson (a2), F. Bonnet-Beaugrand (a1) and C. Fourichon (a1)...
Abstract

Animal health planning activities are not always providing a satisfactory positive impact on herd health and welfare. Moreover, evaluating the impact of advisory programmes is complex due to multiple interacting elements that influence its outcome. Therefore, measuring solely health outcomes is not sufficient: the whole process of the implementation and use of such programmes should be evaluated. In order to evaluate the impact of an intervention with a Herd Health and Production Management (HHPM) programme a process evaluation framework was designed and used. The intervention involved 20 organic dairy cattle farmers and their advisors, in both France and Sweden. In both countries 20 organic dairy farms were selected as control herds. The evaluation of the HHPM programme was based on: (a) the compliance to the programme; (b) the programme’s functions influencing herd health management practices and stimulating dialogue between farmers and advisors; (c) its effectiveness in terms of improving herd health compared with control farms. Complete compliance to the programme was fulfilled by 21 out of 40 farmers–advisors. Results from a questionnaire showed that the programme functioned as intended (e.g. by allowing early identification of herd health problems), stimulated change in farmers’ herd health management practices and farmer–advisor dialogue. Even though the majority of the users perceived that the programme contributed to herd health improvements, no significant differences in health outcomes were found when compared with control farms 12 months after the start of the intervention. The programme allowed creating an environment promoting the exchange of information between farmers and advisors, necessary to define pertinent advice in a farm-specific situation. Future research should aim at improving methods for the evaluation of the effect of advisory programmes, by identifying early indicators for effective advice and developing methods to evaluate the quality of advisory situations without interfering with them.

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Corresponding author
E-mail: julie.duval@oniris-nantes.fr
References
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