Lameness represents a significant management challenge in the dairy industry worldwide. In addition to farmers, many advisors are involved in lameness management, including veterinarians, hoof trimmers, and nutritionists. These advisors support farmers through lameness prevention practices, treatments, and advice, but little is known about how advisors view others' roles and the extent to which they work together. This study used qualitative participatory methods to facilitate the formation of lameness advisory groups among 13 advisors (4 veterinarians, 5 hoof trimmers, and 4 nutritionists), with the aims of promoting advisors' engagement with one another and documenting their perceptions of the benefits and challenges of the research activities through semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis. Participants shared predominantly positive views toward the project and voiced appreciation about the quality of discussions and the opportunity to connect and build relationships with other advisors. Participants reported improved communication with others via sharing reports and farm information, as well as increased confidence in reaching out to other advisors. Reported challenges included time constraints and discomfort in leading the lameness advisory group meetings. Difficulties were also found in bringing issues to farmers' attention when they might not align with the farmers' goals or priorities, as well as participants' questioning other advisors' knowledge and intentions. This study describes a promising avenue of facilitating advisor engagement, although more work is needed to determine whether such engagement translates to a reduction of lameness on farms.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Minnesota State Legislature through the Rapid Agricultural Response Fund managed by the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station (St. Paul, MN). The authors kindly thank participants for their interest, time, and sharing of honest perspectives with the research team. The authors have not stated any conflicts of interest.
© 2022 American Dairy Science Association
- animal welfare
- stakeholder engagement
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article