What really matters in herd health advice? The use of in-depth, qualitative interviews to investigate the efficacy of advisory and communication strategies currently employed by cattle veterinarians.

Alison Bard, David Main, Anne Haase, Emma Roe, Becky Whay, Kristen Reyher

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Posterpeer-review

Abstract

Herd health planning is a critical component of modern dairy farming, resting not only upon the quality and accuracy of the recommendations made, but also on the competence of the advising veterinarian and attitude of the participating farmer (Sibley, 2006). Indeed, Sibley (2006) suggests that ‘if there is not agreement and common purpose, then the plan will fail’. Recent data suggest that whilst the majority of farmers do carry out herd health planning, negative attitudes (such as a perceived lack of benefits and concerns over the additional bureaucracy; Bell et al., 2006) on the value of this process are common. In consequence, implementation of these plans often suffers; for example, in a study of 61 farmers, Bell et al. (2006) found 48% stated that their plan was no longer an active document, whilst 48% stated that their plan was not of any benefit. This research, however, also indicated that farmers’ attitudes towards herd health planning were not associated with their plan type or quality, record quality, extent of review or even with herd health problems and treatment measures.

What, then, really matters in herd health planning? In any interaction on herd health - whether over a specific incidence of disease or the broader process of planning - communication acts as the bridge between veterinarian and farmer in understanding and implementing recommendations. This feature of the herd health plan is often overlooked in deference to the practical considerations described above. To ensure ‘agreement and common purpose’ (Sibley 2006), however, the foundation upon which the process rests must be considered. Indeed, the effects of herd health communication are well recognised (Lam et al., 2011).

This study is a qualitative approach to understanding communication in herd health planning and investigates veterinarian and farmer perceptions of communication, advice and implementing change. These qualitative data reveal new critical insight into the nature of, and influences on, veterinary advice and communication with farmers on matters of herd health, and their consequences in terms of uptake of advice.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016
EventBCVA Congress 2016 - Hinckley, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Oct 201622 Oct 2016
https://www.bcva.eu/system/files/whatwedo/Congress%20Programme%202016.pdf

Conference

ConferenceBCVA Congress 2016
CountryUnited Kingdom
Period20/10/1622/10/16
Internet address

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