Mastitis alert preferences of farmers milking with automatic milking systems

H. Mollenhorst, L.J. Rijkaart, H. Hogeveen

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48 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to assess farmers’ preferences for the performance characteristics of mastitis detection systems. Additionally, we looked at whether certain groups of farmers could be distinguished with specific preferences. Farmers’ opinions concerning mastitis detection systems, as well as general information about the farm and the farmer, were investigated with a standard questionnaire. The second part of the questionnaire was specifically aimed at elucidating preferences. Definitions of time windows and performance parameters, such as sensitivity and specificity, were incorporated into characteristics of a detection system (attributes) that reflect farmers’ daily experience. Based on data from 139 farmers, we concluded that, on average, they prefer a clinical mastitis detection system that produces a low number of false alerts, while alerting in good time and with emphasis on the more severe cases. These 3 attributes were evaluated as more important than the 3 other attributes, representing the costs of the detection system, the number of missed cases, and how long before clinical signs alerts need to be given. Variation in importance per attribute, however, was high, denoting that farmers’ preferences differ considerably. Although some significant relationships were found between farm characteristics and attributes, no clear groups of farmers with specific preferences could be distinguished. Based on these results, we advise making detection systems adaptable for the farmers to satisfy their preferences and to match the circumstances on the farm. Furthermore, these results support that for evaluation of detection algorithms comparisons have to be made at high levels of specificity (e.g., 99%) and time windows have to be kept small (preferably no more than 24 h). Key words: adaptive conjoint analysis, automatic milking system, farmer preference, mastitis detection
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2523-2530
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • clinical mastitis
  • conductivity


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