Dairy cow health and management in the transition period: The need to understand the human dimension

Redfern, E., Sinclair, L.A. and Robinson, P.A. (2021) Dairy cow health and management in the transition period: The need to understand the human dimension. Research in Veterinary Science, 137.

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Abstract

During the transition from the dry period to lactation the dairy cow undergoes a period of physiological, metabolic and immunological change, and is at greater risk of developing disease, to the detriment of health, welfare and production. Many studies have been undertaken to determine appropriate management strategies to improve health and welfare during the transition period, however the incidence of disease, particularly metabolic disease, in this period remains high. To date, a lack of research attention has been paid to the social factors which may affect the management of transition dairy cows. An understanding of farmer and advisor attitudes and behaviour, and the challenges they face in managing transition cows, may help to direct farmers towards more effective disease prevention and control. It is also possible that transition cow morbidity may be due to complex interactions that are difficult to manage, despite efforts to implement best practice. This review paper provides a brief overview of some of the management factors that may influence herd health during the transition period. It then investigates how social influences may relate to the uptake of transition management practices by exploring the use of qualitative interviews investigating farmer and stakeholder attitudes and behaviour in relation to cattle health and welfare, before focussing more specifically on farmer behaviour. Additionally, this paper explores farm advisor behaviour, and how that has been shown to influence farmer adherence to advice, which has particular relevance to transition cow management. It then suggests potential research strategies to investigate the human influences affecting the scale of the problem that may provide solutions to tackle the challenge of improving dairy cow health and welfare.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Transition period, Dairy cattle, Farmer attitudes and behaviours, Social science
Divisions: Veterinary Health and Animal Sciences (from 1.08.20)
Crop and Environment Sciences (to 31.07.20)
Depositing User: Mrs Rachael Harper
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2021 15:07
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2021 15:02
URI: https://hau.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/17701

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