To change or not to change? Veterinarian and farmer perceptions of factors influencing the enactment of veterinary advice on UK dairy farms

Bard, A, Main, David C J, Roe, E, Whay, H and Reyher, K (2019) To change or not to change? Veterinarian and farmer perceptions of factors influencing the enactment of veterinary advice on UK dairy farms. Journal of Dairy Science. ISSN 0022-0302

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Achieving herd health and welfare improvement increasingly relies on cattle veterinarians to train and advise farmers, placing veterinary interactions at the heart of knowledge exchange. Cattle veterinarians recognise their influence and the need to be proactive advisors but struggle with acting upon this awareness in daily practice, reporting a need to enhance their advisory approach to inspire farmer behaviour change. Understanding how veterinarian-farmer interactions positively or negatively influence the enactment of change on farm is therefore essential to support to the cattle veterinary profession. This paper adopts a qualitative approach to conceptualise how - and under what circumstances - veterinary advice has the potential to support and inspire farmer engagement with behaviour change on the UK dairy farm. Fourteen UK dairy farms were recruited to take part in a qualitative study involving research observation of a ‘typical’ advisory consultation between veterinarian and farmer (n=14) followed by separate, in-depth interviews with the farmer(s) and their respective veterinarian. Interview data were organised using a template coding method and analysed thematically. Whilst accuracy of veterinary advisory content was valued, it was a relational context of trust, shared veterinarian-farmer understanding and meaningful interpretation of advice at a local (farmer) level that was most likely to enact change. Critically, these relational factors were reported to work together synergistically; a trusting relationship was an essential – but not necessarily sufficient – component to create a culture of change. Findings suggest that cattle veterinarians may benefit from tailoring advisory services to the farmers’ specific world view, facilitated by a shared understanding of the farmers’ immediate and long-term motivational drivers. In consequence, cattle veterinarians seeking to positively engage farmers in advisory interactions could consider a focus on farmer priorities, motivations and goals as paramount to frame and inform advisory messages. This explicit collaborative communication encourages the selection of appropriate and timely veterinary expertise, leading to better integration and adoption of advice on farm given enhanced advisory relevance for farmers’ unique circumstances. This farmer-centered approach, involving active co-creation of plans between individuals, is critical for engagement and commitment in the tackling of complex problems.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: veterinary, dairy, farms
Divisions: Agriculture, Food and Environment
Depositing User: Professor David Main
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2019 08:18
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2022 14:25

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