The right strategy for you: Using the preferences of beef farmers to guide biosecurity recommendations for on-farm management of endemic disease

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstract


In the face of limited resources, on-farm biosecurity must often compete with other farming practices for precedence. Farmers are likely to reject new knowledge or recommendations if they do not align with their personal values and farming priorities. In this study we describe a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA), grounded in prescriptive decision theory, with the aim to determine the most appropriate biosecurity combination for management of bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV), based on the preferences of Australian beef farmers.

Quarantine, hygiene, double-fencing farm boundaries, vaccination against BVDV and strategic exposure to persistently infected animals were used to construct 23 biosecurity combinations to be assessed in the MCDA. Performance measurements for these combinations were obtained from a study that modelled the prevention of BVDV in self-replacing Australian beef farms. Seven quantifiable criteria were defined that describe the impact of biosecurity combinations on preventing disease introduction, on-farm outcomes (abortion, calf mortality, underweight sale animals), off-farm outcomes (infected animals sold) and the annual input cost of the combination. An online survey was used to collect the preferences of beef producers in Australia (the stakeholders) based on criteria performance, which were used to produce a weighted score for each biosecurity combination using point-of-truth calibration.

Double-fencing farm boundaries combined with vaccination against BVDV was the highest scoring biosecurity combination based on the preferences of all producers, despite the fact that it had one of the highest input costs. Overall, practices that only prevent introduction of BVDV into the herd scored higher than those that only prevent within-herd transmission.

This study demonstrates that economic cost is not the sole contributor to farmer decisions regarding implementation of on-farm biosecurity. The outcomes of the MCDA suggest that producer preferences favour prevention of disease introduction and the preservation of farm animal health.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2022
Event16th International Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics Symposium: ISVEE16 - The Halifax Convention Centre, Halifax, Canada
Duration: 07 Aug 202212 Aug 2022 (Proceedings page)


Conference16th International Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics Symposium
Abbreviated titleConnecting Animals, People, and their shared environments
Internet address


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