Why isn’t the transition period getting the attention it deserves? Farm advisors’ opinions and experiences of managing dairy cow health in the transition period

Redfern, E., Sinclair, L.A. and Robinson, P.A. (2021) Why isn’t the transition period getting the attention it deserves? Farm advisors’ opinions and experiences of managing dairy cow health in the transition period. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 194.

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Abstract

During the transition period three weeks before and after calving the dairy cow is at greater risk of developing disease, to the detriment of welfare and production. An understanding of the reasons why and how farmers and their advisors engage in efforts to control metabolic disease during the transition period is required if these diseases are to be more successfully controlled. The study reported here, based on interview research, investigates the opinions and behaviours of farm advisors on transition cow management and nutrition, their experiences of working with their respective farm clients, and interactions with other farm advisors to help manage transition cow health and productivity. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 veterinary advisors and 12 non-veterinary advisors (nutritionists, feed company representatives and independent consultants) in England. A key theme emerging from this qualitative data was a perceived lack of focussed transition management advice provided by advisors. Reasons for suboptimal or lack of appropriate advice included: time pressures for advisors to visit as many farms as possible; avoiding the investigation of areas of potential improvement, for fear of not meeting transition health and performance targets; financial disincentives for nutritionists, as the sales commission attributed to transition cow feeding was small relative to the main milking herd; and a lack of confidence in the subject. Other aspects included the responsibility of providing transition advice which was perceived to be high-risk, a lack of cooperation between veterinarians and nutritionists, and the perceived varying competencies of nutritionists. The findings demonstrate the importance of the varied influences of ‘people factors’ on transition cow health such as the nature of the advisor-farmer relationship, advisor-farmer communication and herd-level advisor collaboration on transition cow health and management.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Dairy cow health, Transition period, Farm advisors, Opinions, Experiences, Social science
Divisions: Veterinary Health and Animal Sciences (from 1.08.20)
Agriculture and Environment (from 1.08.20)
Depositing User: Mrs Rachael Harper
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2021 13:10
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2021 13:10
URI: https://hau.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/17738

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