Successful Johne’s control requires a complex mixture of science, policy, practical interventions but most of all an ability to engage and enthuse the farmer to apply the necessary changes at farm level.
The purpose of this paper is to help identify through a short survey a snapshot of the farmer attitudes and engagement with Johne’s Disease (JD) in the UK.
The results of this survey will be used to help shape the activities and priorities of the National Johne’s Management Plan (Orpin and Sibley 2014, Orpin 2016, Sibley and Orpin 2016).
A convenience sample of 394 farmers non-randomly selected completed a survey. Of those surveyed, 71% had developed a robust JD control plan in conjunction with their vet and a further 22% has created a plan based on their own research and talks. A further 4% planned to start JD control soon. No farmers surveyed failed to believe in the need to control the risks of JD.
47% of farmers were happy with their control plan and had no concerns. The major concerns cited were insufficient buildings to segregate high risk cattle, confusion with the tests and concerns regarding the costs of culling.
The key problems with JD control related to segregation of high risk animals (53%), TB testing interfering with results (40%) and uncertainty on when to cull test positive cows (38%).
The major benefits of effective JD control were better overall health of the herd (82%), reduced forced culling (63%) and improved fertility (49%).
When asked how they felt about JD control 78% classified themselves as firm believers and would recommend it to other farmers. A further 13% were practising control for the benefit of their processor.
The use of the Net Promoter score revealed there was more promoters than detractors and the overall score was positive indicating that farmers would help persuade others to take part in the programme through recommendation.
The key area that would incentivise farmers to adopt a robust JD plan are financial incentives from their processor, more on farm training and more evidence that JD control works. More detailed analysis. The farmers were classified as Proactivist or Unconcerned following a similar methodology adopted by Ritter and others (2016) and this revealed that each group had different perspectives on JD and these could be used to better deploy JD control at farm and at national level.
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