Dairy cow foot health is a subject of concern because it is considered to be the most important welfare problem in dairy farming and causes economic losses for the farmer. In order to improve dairy cow foot health it is important to take into account the attitude and intention of dairy farmers. In our study the objective was to gain insight into the attitude and intention of dairy farmers to take action to improve dairy cow foot health and determine drivers and barriers to take action, using the Theory of Planned Behavior. Five hundred Dutch dairy farmers were selected randomly and were invited by email to fill in an online questionnaire. The questionnaire included questions about respondents' intentions, attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioral control and was extended with questions about personal normative beliefs. With information from such a framework, solution strategies for the improvement of dairy cow foot health can be proposed. The results showed that almost 70% of the dairy farmers had an intention to take action to improve dairy cow foot health. Most important drivers seem to be the achievement of better foot health with cost-effective measures. Possible barriers to taking action were labor efficiency and a long interval between taking action and seeing an improvement in dairy cow foot health. The feed advisor and foot trimmer seemed to have most influence on intentions to take action to improve dairy cow foot health. Most farmers seemed to be satisfied with the foot health status at their farm, which probably weakens the intention for foot health improvement, especially compared to other issues which farmers experience as more urgent. Subclinical foot disorders (where cows are not visibly lame) were not valued as important with respect to animal welfare. Furthermore, 25% of the respondents did not believe cows could suffer pain. Animal welfare, especially the provision of good care for the cows, was valued as important but was not related to intention to improve dairy cow foot health. The cost-effectiveness of measures seemed to be more important. Providing more information on the effects of taking intervention measures might stimulate farmers to take action to achieve improvement in dairy cow foot health.
- lameness control
- control program