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Effects of a participatory approach, with systematic impact matrix analysis in herd health planning in organic dairy cattle herds

  • K. Sjöström (a1), S. Sternberg-Lewerin (a2), I. Blanco-Penedo (a1) (a3), J. E. Duval (a4), M. Krieger (a5), U. Emanuelson (a1) and N. Fall (a1)...

Abstract

The animal health and welfare status in European organic dairy production does not in all aspects meet the organic principles and consumers’ expectations and needs to be improved. To achieve this, tailored herd health planning, targeted to the specific situation of individual farms could be of use. The aim of this study was to apply herd health planning in a structured participatory approach, with impact matrix analysis, not previously used in this context, in European organic dairy farms and to assess changes in animal health and welfare. Herd health planning farm visits were conducted on 122 organic dairy farms in France, Germany and Sweden. The farmer, the herd veterinarian and/or an advisor took part in the farm discussions. The researcher served as facilitator. Baseline data on the animal health status of the individual farm, collected from national milk recording schemes, were presented as an input for the discussion. Thereafter a systematic impact matrix analysis was performed. This was to capture the complexity of individual farms with the aim to identify the farm-specific factors that could have a strong impact on animal health. The participants (i.e. farmer, veterinarian and advisor) jointly identified areas in need of improvement, taking the health status and the interconnected farm system components into account, and appropriate actions were jointly identified. The researcher took minutes during the discussions, and these were shared with the participants. No intervention was made by the researcher, and further actions were left with the participants. The number of actions per farm ranged from 0 to 22. The change in mortality, metabolic diseases, reproductive performance and udder health was assessed at two time points, and potential determinators of the change were evaluated with linear regression models. A significant association was seen between change in udder health, as measured by the somatic cell count, and country. At the first follow-up, a significant association was also found between change in the proportion of prolonged calving interval and the farmers’ desire to improve reproductive health as well as with an increase in herd size, but this was not seen at the second follow-up. The degree of implementation of the actions was good (median 67%, lower quartile 40%, upper quartile 83%). To conclude, the degree of implementation was quite high, improvement of animal health could not be linked to the herd health planning approach. However, the approach was highly appreciated by the participants and deserves further study.

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Keywords

Effects of a participatory approach, with systematic impact matrix analysis in herd health planning in organic dairy cattle herds

  • K. Sjöström (a1), S. Sternberg-Lewerin (a2), I. Blanco-Penedo (a1) (a3), J. E. Duval (a4), M. Krieger (a5), U. Emanuelson (a1) and N. Fall (a1)...

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