Farmers taking responsibility for herd health development—stable schools in research and advisory activities as a tool for dairy health and welfare planning in Europe

Silvia Ivemeyer*, Nick J. Bell, Jan Brinkmann, Kornel Cimer, Elisabeth Gratzer, Christine Leeb, Solveig March, Cecilie Mejdell, Stephen Roderick, Gidi Smolders, Michael Walkenhorst, Christoph Winckler, Mette Vaarst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Achieving and maintaining a high herd health and welfare status is an important aim in organic livestock farming. The varying farming systems across and within countries call for models that are relevant for different farming types and that can be integrated into local practice. In stable schools, farmers take responsibility for health and welfare planning by identifying issues, setting goals, and acting to improve the health situation based on farm-specific data, e.g. milk production. This paper reviews the results from intervention studies that used a modified ‘farmer field school’ approach for animal health and welfare planning, providing an overview of ongoing activities and their implementation into advisory situations in selected European countries. Studies on stable schools as an intervention tool showed improvements regarding the specific project aim on the majority of the participating farms. Farmers and facilitators were convinced of the approach and benefits for dairy herds. Farmers’ attitude and attention towards their herds and their ownership of the process appear to be crucial success factors for herd health and welfare situations. In some European countries, this method has been implemented in advisory practice, and in other regions, there are relevant and promising opportunities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-141
JournalOrganic Agriculture
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Animal welfare
  • Farmer field schools
  • Herd health
  • Intervention
  • Knowledge exchange
  • Stable schools

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