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A deductive approach to animal health planning in organic dairy farming: Method description

Selle, Margret; Hoischen-Taubner, Susanne and Sundrum, Albert (2014) A deductive approach to animal health planning in organic dairy farming: Method description. In: Schobert, Heike; Riecher, Maja-Catrin; Fischer, Holger; Aenis, Thomas and Knierim, Andrea (Eds.) Farming systems facing global challenges: Capacities and strategies, pp. 540-548.

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Document available online at: http://ifsa.boku.ac.at/cms/fileadmin/Proceeding2014/WS_1_6_Selle.pdf


Organic farming is often directly associated with an enhanced level of animal health and welfare. However, in spite of ongoing efforts in the fields of animal science, the animal health status in organic dairy farming does not in all respect meet consumers’ expectations. Reasons are manifold and differ considerably between farms as do the multi-factorial production diseases. Success of animal health planning highly depends on a sound diagnostic procedure at farm level and farmers’ intrinsic motivation to improve the animal health status. Both aspects are essential preconditions for the identification and implementation of the most appropriate farm-specific management measures.
The aim of this paper is to introduce a participatory and farm-centric methodological approach, facilitating the comprehension of farm specific processes and encouraging farmers to increase animal health status. The system ‘organic dairy farm’ is described and vital key variables that play a role in the way the system behaves are determined in intensive workshops involving relevant stakeholders. On the basis of farm protocols, milk recordings, and animal based measurements the animal health status is determined for each farm and discussed in a ‘round table’ situation involving the different perspectives of the farmer himself, the local veterinarian and an agricultural advisor. By making use of the impact matrix as an innovative diagnostic tool to deal with the complexity of the farm system, the interconnectedness of 13 system variables is assessed at farm level. The method is used to gain a comprehensive insight from different perspectives and achieve agreement about the systemic functional role of relevant factors involved in the development of multi-factorial production diseases. Based on the on-farm assessment and the impact matrix analysis the discussion results in the formulation of farm-individual goals and the identification of measures that are expected to most likely improve animal health in the farm specific situation taking into account the availability of resources. The participatory process facilitates knowledge exchange and collective learning.
For animal health planning to be effective, farm-specific interconnections have to be taken into account instead of focussing on general recommendations. The impact matrix analysis promises to be an effective method to reduce the complexity of the farm system and to identify measures which can be expected to have a relevant impact on the animal health status. Thus, reducing health problems deriving from complex interactions is expected to benefit from the integration of different perspectives.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Poster
Keywords:cow, systemic, impact matrix analysis, advisory, participatory, complexity
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems > Dairy cattle
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy > Systems research and participatory research
Knowledge management > Education, extension and communication
Research affiliation: Germany > University of Kassel > Department of Animal Nutrition and Animal Health
European Union
Horizon Europe or H2020 Grant Agreement Number:311824
Deposited By: Krieger, Margret
ID Code:27935
Deposited On:05 Jan 2015 12:30
Last Modified:05 Jan 2015 12:30
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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