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J Dairy Sci. 2015 Aug;98(8):5222-40. doi: 10.3168/jds.2014-8765.

Evaluating the effect of Focus Farms on Ontario dairy producers' knowledge, attitudes, and behavior toward control of Johne's disease.

Author information

1
Department of Population Medicine, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1.
2
School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1.
3
Department of Population Medicine, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1. Electronic address: dkelton@uoguelph.ca.

Abstract

This study evaluated a participatory-based, experiential learning program, Ontario Focus Farms (FF), which aimed to change dairy producer behavior to control Johne's disease (JD) in Ontario, Canada. The goals were to (1) assess the effect of FF on participating dairy producers' knowledge, attitudes, and behavior with regard to JD control; (2) compare changes in these factors among FF participants to changes among a group of nonparticipating dairy producers; and (3) describe the characteristics of producers who made at least one on-farm management change. Pre- and post-FF intervention questionnaires collected data on respondents' knowledge, attitudes, behavior, herd production, and demographic information; before and after JD-risk assessments were used to assess respondents' on-farm risk of JD transmission. Overall, 176 dairy producers participated in the FF process; 39.8% (70/176) of FF and 14.6% (52/357) of control participants responded to both the pre- and postintervention questionnaires. Upon comparison, FF respondents were more likely to be younger, have larger herds, and have higher management scores. The proportion of FF participants who reported making at least one on-farm change (81%) was significantly higher than that of control respondents (38%). Overall, FF respondents significantly changed their risk score in 4 out of 5 risk areas and had an average reduction of 13 points in their overall risk score between before and after risk assessments. Control respondents' risk assessment scores did not significantly change during the study period. In a JD knowledge assessment, FF and control respondents exhibited a moderate knowledge score before the intervention period, with median scores of 75.9% (22/29) in each group. The FF respondents significantly increased their score at the postintervention assessment, with a median of 82.8% (24/29); control-respondent scores did not significantly change. Both FF and control respondents held strong positive attitudes toward JD control and felt a moderate amount of social pressure from veterinarians and industry organizations to make on-farm changes. However, they questioned their ability to effectively control JD on the farm. Last, participating in FF, having a moderate herd management score, having a positive perception about the practicality of on-farm recommendations, and having a singular learning preference were associated with increased odds of making an on-farm change. Overall, the FF process appears to be effective at influencing producer behavior toward implementing on-farm management practices for JD control. Future JD control programs should consider implementing peer-learning extension processes, such as FF, in combination with other extension approaches, to influence producer behavior.

KEYWORDS:

Johne’s disease; agricultural extension; attitude; behavior change

PMID:
26074233
DOI:
10.3168/jds.2014-8765
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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