2014 Veterinary Record-2014-Devitt- Herd owner survey

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Short Communication

Short Communication Herd owner experiences of the voluntary phase of a BVD eradication programme Challenges in eradicating BVD (bovine viral diarrhoea) include lack of farmer motivation, difficulties in encouraging compliance with biosecurity and testing protocols, and variations in opinions regarding responsibility to eradicate the disease ( unn and others 2005 , Booth and Brownlie 2012 ). coordinated approach, industry support, farm- er cooperation, achievable targets and effective communication can help support eradication ( indberg and others 2006 , Barrett and others 2011 ). Policy or legislative intervention is required when social pres- sures to eradicate disease are unsuccessful ( unn and others 2005 ). ational action on BVD eradication in Ireland is coordinated by nimal ealth Ireland, an industry-led, not-for-profit partnership to address the control of non-regulatory animal diseases endemic in Ireland through collaborative stakeholder action. In 2010, the eradica- tion of BVD in Ireland was prioritised by industry and animal dis- ease experts ( More and others 2010 ). In 2012, the voluntary phase of an industry-led national BVD eradication programme began with the intention of progressing to a compulsory programme in 2013. raham and others (2014) provide a comprehensive overview of the development and review of the voluntary phase. web-based survey was conducted in mid-2012 as part of this review. The aim was to explore the strengths and weaknesses of components of the voluntary programme, and to use these results to assist with subsequent decision making and communications around the implementation of the com- pulsory programme. This body of evidence helped inform the deci- sion taken by the BVDI to progress to the compulsory programme that began on January 1, 2013 ( raham and others 2014 ). Research ethical approval was granted by the University College Dublin (UCD) uman Research thics Committee. n invitation email, containing a web link to the online survey, was randomly administered via email to n = 3000 herd owners on the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) database (a database of registered herd owners) who were participating in the voluntary eradication pro- gramme, and n = 3000 herd owners on the database who had not participated in the programme. ach group was split evenly between dairy and beef herds. total of n = 520 (8.7 per cent of total number of invitations issued) completed surveys were returned. urvey data was transferred to P V.15.0 ( P , 2007) for analysis. Table 1 shows C. Devitt, D. A. Graham, S. Coughlan, J. O’Flaherty

the distribution of respondents (n = 520) according to herd type and participation in the voluntary phase. The majority of participant respondents were satisfied with the components of the voluntary phase of the eradication programme (ie, ‘ease with which information on the programme could be found’; ‘ease with which tissue sample button tags could be ordered and sam- ples submitted to the chosen laboratory’; ‘testing of samples by the chosen laboratory’; and ‘reporting of results’). These findings helped confirm to nimal ealth Ireland ( I) that the voluntary phase provided an adequate template for a compulsory national eradication programme. Well over three-quarters of respondents reported high levels of support in relation to the ease of complying with certain programme guidelines (ie, ‘testing all calves born into the herd for BVD infection’; ‘tagging calves within seven days of birth’; ‘return- ing samples to a designated laboratory no later than seven days post sampling’). owever, respondents indicated that compliance with guidelines requiring that virus-positive animals were not sold, and the culling of infected animals was challenging, with this being particu- larly evident among beef farmers. Despite this, a parallel review of programme compliance found that less than 3 per cent of calves with an initial positive result had been sold, and approximately 70 per cent had been culled ( raham and others 2014 ). Respondents reported a lower likelihood of adopting some bios- ecurity measures, such as providing boots/overalls to farm staff and farm visitors, double fencing of boundaries, not borrowing equip- ment, and disinfecting borrowed equipment. This finding is similar to that of Booth and Brownlie (2012) , who reported that herd own- ers had difficulty complying with recommendations regarding dou- ble fencing. erd owners may not always recognise the relationship between the adoption of certain biosecurity measures and improved disease control and eradication outcomes, and/or may perceive these actions too difficult and time consuming to implement ( unn and others 2008 , effernan and others 2009 ). It is therefore important, as the national eradication programme progresses, to continue to com- municate key biosecurity measures to herd owners to raise awareness of, and encourage compliance with, these measures. Technical Working roup (TW ) on biosecurity, established by I in 2011, and a risk factor analysis on BVD ( raham and others 2013 ) are help- ing to inform ongoing communications on biosecurity measures. detailed review was initiated in 2013 (continuing into 2014) to assess compliance with the guidelines in 2012. Only those deemed compli- ant will have their results for 2012 counted as a year of testing within the compulsory programme ( raham and others 2014 ). Cited reasons for non-participation in the voluntary phase included: (1) the belief that BVD is not a problem on the farm; (2) the perception that existing eradication measures on the farm are sufficient; (3) concerns over using a third tag and (4) apprehension about the perceived costs of participating and lack of financial incen- tives. ot all non-participants were aware of the voluntary phase, and of those that did, nearly half reported feeling ‘poorly informed/ very poorly informed’. Information provision and content was a key theme throughout the results. Print media (leaflets and the farming TABLE 1: Distribution of respondents (n = 520) herds according to herd type and participation in the voluntary phase of the BVD eradication programme Overall total Herd type Dairy Beef Participating herd n (%) n (%) n (%) Yes 364 (70) 193 (53) 171 (47) No 156 (30) 79 (50.6) 77 (49.4) Total 520 (100) 272 (52.3) 248 (47.7) BVD, bovine viral diarrhoea

Veterinary Record (2014)

doi: 10.1136/vr.101990

C. Devitt, MSocSc Glendalough, Co.,Wicklow, Bray, Ireland D. A. Graham, MVB, PhD, MRCVS J. O’Flaherty, MVB, MBA, BA, European Studies, MEconSc Animal Health Ireland, Main St, Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim, Ireland S. Coughlan, BComm, MBA, ACMA Irish Cattle Breeding Federation,

Shinagh House, Bandon, Ireland;

E-mailforcorrespondence: catherine.devitt@ucd.ie Provenance: not commissioned;

externally peer reviewed AcceptedMarch 10, 2014

May 10, 2014 | Veterinary Record

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