Lameness in Dairy Cattle: The impact of different methods of knowledge transfer on behaviour change in dairy producers and subsequent impact on lameness prevalence in their herds
Despite an increase in activity surrounding lameness in the last 20 years there has been little improvement in lameness prevalence with approximately 1 in 3 cows in Wales lame at any one time. A new, refreshed approach is required that offers alternative methods of knowledge exchange and easier ways of farmers engaging in lameness control.
The aim of the project is to determine the impact of different methods of knowledge transfer on farmer perception of lameness, their knowledge and behaviour change. Often the barrier to improvement is not a lack of knowing what to do, but how to practically implement ideas, particularly when time and resources are limited.
Twenty four dairy farmers from across south east Wales are taking part in this two year project which aims to discover the best method of engaging with farers in lameness management.
Farmer action groups - These will be a group meeting led by a facilitator where knowledge exchange is based on peer-to-peer learning.
One to one advice - This will be centred on the AHDB Healthy Feet Programme Lite (HFPLite), which will be delivered by the farmer’s own vet. The HFPLite is a new approach to lameness control and is centred on identifying and tackling the key risks for lameness on the farm.
The farmers will be split into the four groups:
- Control. No involvement in either method of knowledge exchange and monitored only. No planned intervention unless there is deemed to be a welfare concern due to lameness levels
- Healthy Feet Programme Lite (HFLite). Farmer will receive direct, targeted advice through implementation of the HFLite by their own trained vet (Mobility Mentor).
- Farmer Action Group. Farmers will receive no direct specialist advice but share knowledge through a facilitated action group. A WhatsApp group will also be created to allow members to share changes they’ve implemented, ideas and questions.
- HFLite & Farmer Action Group. Farmers will receive lameness support through both targeted specialist advice through implementation of HFLite and group support through a facilitated Farmer Action Group. A WhatsApp group will also be created to allow members to share changes they’ve implemented, ideas and questions.
The project will better inform us of the impacts that different methods of knowledge transfer have on behaviour, attitude and knowledge surrounding lameness control in the dairy herd. The overall benefit will be a greater understanding of the most effective methods of knowledge transfer to allow tailoring of future lameness initiatives for greatest cost-benefit.