At present most Dutch veterinary practices offer on-farm counseling to dairy farmers. Goal of this study was to determine how Dutch veterinary practices defined on-farm counseling and what problems they experienced interacting with dairy farmers. In January 2011 ten randomly selected Dutch veterinary practices involved in on-farm counseling within the scope of herd health programs on dairy farms were asked to participate in this study. Upon agreement an appointment was made at the veterinary practice where one veterinarian, providing on-farm counseling in practice, was interviewed. During the interview a list of questions were asked in a semi-structured fashion. The interviews were recorded with a voice recorder and later transcribed in full. The definition of on-farm counseling differed between practices. Some practices defined it as fertility checks, while others included structural advice on aspects of dairy farming such as animal health, housing and prevention. According to the veterinarians, the way on-farm counseling was executed was fully dependent on the farmers’ wishes. However, farmers were not actively asked for their wishes. During on-farm counseling goal setting and evaluation were used only by two veterinarians. Three veterinarians provided a written advice afterwards. Most veterinarians experienced difficulties communicating advices to dairy farmers; they indicated they found it difficult to change farmers’ behavior and experienced difficulties explaining the value of the advice. Most advices were followed only partially. An important observation in this study was that veterinarians who were enthusiastic about the concept of on-farm counseling saw possibilities to expand it in their practice and experienced less communication problems. Problems with udder health and production level were detected earlier and dealt with in a more preventive and structural way. Veterinarians also had fewer difficulties selling their advice to farmers, and perceived their farmers as motivated more often.
|Title of host publication||Udder Health and Communication|
|Editors||H. Hogeveen, T.J.G.M. Lam|
|Place of Publication||Wageningen|
|Publisher||Wageningen Academic Publishers|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|