Perception of Dutch farmers and veterinarians related to dairy young stock rearing

Siert Jan Boersema, J P T M Noorhuizen, Jan Lievaart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


A group of 110 dairy farmers and 26 bovine veterinarians participated in a web-based questionnaire using the adaptive conjoint analysis technique to rank their perception regarding several hazards during 6 subsequent periods of the process of dairy young stock rearing. The method applied only involved selected respondents with a high consistency in their answering (correlation >30%). For the ranking, answers were first transformed into a utility score (US) for each hazard. The final ranking for each of the 6 periods was based on the US per hazard separately for farmers and veterinarians. Besides the ranking, the absolute values and the US itself were also compared between farmers and veterinarians to determine any statistically significant differences between the levels of the score despite the ranking. The overall conclusion is that, for almost every designated period, the ranking of the hazards differed between farmers and veterinarians. Only 1 period was observed (period IV, Pregnancy period until 4 weeks before calving) where veterinarians and farmers had the same top 3 ranking of the hazards, namely "Mastitis," "Abortion," and "Poor growth rate of the pregnant heifer." Major differences between farmers and veterinarians were seen during period II (feeding milk until weaning) for the hazard "Diarrhea in older calf," which was considered less important by farmers compared to veterinarians, and period number III (weaning until insemination) for "Over-condition," which, again, was seen as the most important hazard by veterinarians, but only ranked as number 5 by farmers.Besides the ranking, significant differences in absolute US values between veterinarians and farmers were seen in "Infection with Johne's disease" (14.5 vs. 7.8), "Diarrhea in newborn calf" (18.2 vs. 12.2), and "Insufficient feed intake" (16.2 vs. 8.4) in period I (colostrum until transition to milk replacer). Lameness represented the most important significant difference in absolute values in period III (weaning until insemination; 6.3 vs. 14.3), which was again significant in period V (4 wks before calving until calving; 7.4 vs. 12.1). The outcome of this study shows that hazard perception of veterinarians and farmers differs for most rearing periods (in ranking and absolute values). The outcome of this study can be used for 2 purposes: first, to improve communication between farmers and their consulting veterinarian about hazards and hazard perception in young stock rearing; and second, the US scores can be used to select top priority hazards which should at least be integrated into management advisory programs to improve dairy young stock rearing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5027-5034
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013

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