Effective communication to improve udder health: can social science help?
Garforth, C. (2011) Effective communication to improve udder health: can social science help? In: Hogeveen, H. and Lam, T.J.G.M. (eds.) Udder Health and Communication. Wageningen Academic Publishers, Wageningen, The Netherlands, pp. 55-66. ISBN 9789086861859
To link to this article DOI: 10.3920/978-90-8686-742-4
Improved udder health requires consistent application of appropriate management practices by those involved in managing dairy herds and the milking process. Designing effective communication requires that we understand why dairy herd managers behave in the way they do and also how the means of communication can be used both to inform and to influence. Social sciences- ranging from economics to anthropology - have been used to shed light on the behaviour of those who manage farm animals. Communication science tells us that influencing behaviour is not simply a question of „getting the message across‟ but of addressing the complex of factors that influence an individual‟s behavioural decisions. A review of recent studies in the animal health literature shows that different social science frameworks and methodologies offer complementary insights into livestock managers‟ behaviour but that the diversity of conceptual and methodological frameworks presents a challenge for animal health practitioners and policy makers who seek to make sense of the findings – and for researchers looking for helpful starting points. Data from a recent study in England illustrate the potential of „home-made‟ conceptual frameworks to help unravel the complexity of farmer behaviour. At the same time, though, the data indicate the difficulties facing those designing communication strategies in a context where farmers believe strongly that they are already doing all they can reasonably be expected to do to minimise animal health risks.
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