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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Vet. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fvets.2019.00410

Farmers’ uptake of animal health and welfare technological innovations. Implications for animal health policies

Jiayi Liu1,  Luiza Toma2*,  Andrew P. Barnes2 and Alistair Stott2
  • 1Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland, United Kingdom
  • 2Scotland's Rural College, United Kingdom

The paper analyses the uptake of animal health and welfare technologies by livestock farmers focusing on the identification of different behavioral patterns occurring in subpopulations of farmers and the assessment of the effect socio-economic and attitudinal factors have on these patterns. The technologies of interest include new genomic technologies, animal electronic identification (EID) for farm management, cattle surveillance, welfare qualitative behavioral assessment, anaerobic digestion, pedometers or activity monitors to detect oestrus and increase fertility/conception, and webcams/smart phones/tablets for animal husbandry. We use latent class analysis modelling and cross-section survey data to construct typologies of farmers based on technological uptake and heterogeneous characteristics. Our results suggest that, while three fifths of the farmers are ‘non-adopters’, a third is classified as ‘current adopters’ of animal EID for farm management, and a twelfth as ‘future adopters’ of either or more types of animal health and welfare technologies. Age, agricultural income, perceived difficulty to invest in new technologies, agri-environmental scheme membership, and frequency of access to information on animal EID for farm management and cattle surveillance through British Cattle Movement Service, are significant predictors of typology membership. The findings are policy relevant as they give quantitative evidence on the factors influencing technological uptake and, as such, help identify the most likely adopters and optimise the cost of targeting them. As information access was found to be among the factors influencing multiple technology adoption, policy instruments should include the provision of training as regards the implementation of technologies and their combined impact on farm. Farmers’ adoption of interrelated innovations suggests the need to coordinate individual policies aimed at encouraging uptake of different technologies. As shown here, this would concern not only synchronizing animal health and welfare policies, but also their interaction with others such as agri-environmental ones. Moreover, the results show that animal health policies requiring regulatory compliance may lead to voluntary uptake of additional or complementary technologies which relate to not just meeting but exceeding standards of animal welfare and health practices.

Keywords: Animal Health, Farmer typology, Model selection, Technology uptake, latent class analysis

Received: 07 Aug 2019; Accepted: 04 Nov 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Liu, Toma, Barnes and Stott. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Luiza Toma, Scotland's Rural College, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, luiza.toma@sruc.ac.uk