Exploring the role of farmers’ attitudes in influencing animal health best practice

Animal health is one of the key factors affecting the economic efficiency of the dairy industry and has important implications within an increasingly competitive marketplace. Despite the fact that the economic gains of ‘best practice’ with regard to animal health have been well documented, many farmers are still not adopting optimal herd management techniques. This paper utilises Irish nationally representative farm-level data from 2013 to identify drivers and barriers to the adoption of ‘best practice’ with regard to mastitis management. Exploratory factor analysis and econometric techniques (logistic regression methods) were employed here to empirically assess the influence of farmers’ attitudes towards animal health and mastitis on the adoption of particular mastitis hygiene and herd management practices by farmers. A number of interesting issues arise in identifying barriers to the uptake of ‘best practice,’ these include the possibility of routine inertia, i.e., farmers do not deviate from the routine developed around mastitis prevention until there is an indication of infection, as well as time and cost constraints. Farmer behavior with respect to mastitis management can thus be considered ‘reactionary’ as opposed to ‘precautionary.’ This research highlights the valuable role of the extension agent in influencing the uptake of animal health ‘best practice’ but concludes that engagement around knowledge transfer and ‘best practice’ technology adoption is particularly complex.

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Conference Paper/ Presentation
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JEL Codes:
Q100; Q160; and Q180.

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-23

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