DOI: 10.12924/of2020.06010013 |Publication Date: 12 May 2020

Modified 'Stable Schools' as a Consulting Tool for Organic Dairy Herds

Verena K. Hansmann 1 , Otto Volling 2 and Volker Krömker 3, *
1 Department of Bioprocess Engineering, Microbiology, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hannover, Hannover, Germany
2 Ökoring e. V., Visselhövede, Germany
3 Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Section Production, Nutrition and Health, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark
* Corresponding author
Abstract: The aim of this study was to examine the opinions of farmers on a consulting project, which was established for organic dairy farms in Northern Germany involving different animal health experts who participated in the meetings. Furthermore, the properties of measures that are of decisive importance for implementation on the farms were identified to improve consultancy services for dairy farming. Once a year, the farmers met on a host-farm in one of three groups consisting of five to nine farms, a facilitator and an expert. At each meeting, a host-farm was visited and the analysed data of all participating farms of the previous year were presented to the group members. Each farmer had the possibility to report on success stories and issues concerning his herd. During discussions, the farmers first proposed mutual farm-specific measures for improving herd health and animal welfare. Afterwards, the expert named possible interventions and commented on the given measures of the farmers. All measures were noted by the facilitator. At the end of each meeting, each farmer could choose which of the given measures he wanted to implement. Open group-interviews as well as anonymous questionnaires for the farmers were used at the meetings in winter 2016/2017 to evaluate their perception of this consulting project and to determine which properties of measures were important for implementation on the farms. Based on the results of this study, the participating farmers were very positive towards this kind of consulting project. They favoured the participation of an expert during the meetings and the analysis of farm specific data. Farmers mostly chose measures for implementation proposed by farmers and approved by the expert, followed by those proposed by the expert only. Measures were chosen when they were practical in the implementation, effective, efficient and took a low additional workload for implementation.

Keywords: consulting; dairy farming; experts; fellow farmers; herd health; improvement; learning-groups; choosing measures; organic farming; welfare

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2012 - 2020 by the authors; licensee Librello, Switzerland. This open access article was published under a Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).