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Organic Agriculture

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 135–141 | Cite as

Farmers taking responsibility for herd health development—stable schools in research and advisory activities as a tool for dairy health and welfare planning in Europe

  • Silvia Ivemeyer
  • Nick J. Bell
  • Jan Brinkmann
  • Kornel Cimer
  • Elisabeth Gratzer
  • Christine Leeb
  • Solveig March
  • Cecilie Mejdell
  • Stephen Roderick
  • Gidi Smolders
  • Michael Walkenhorst
  • Christoph Winckler
  • Mette Vaarst
Article

Abstract

Achieving and maintaining a high herd health and welfare status is an important aim in organic livestock farming. The varying farming systems across and within countries call for models that are relevant for different farming types and that can be integrated into local practice. In stable schools, farmers take responsibility for health and welfare planning by identifying issues, setting goals, and acting to improve the health situation based on farm-specific data, e.g. milk production. This paper reviews the results from intervention studies that used a modified ‘farmer field school’ approach for animal health and welfare planning, providing an overview of ongoing activities and their implementation into advisory situations in selected European countries. Studies on stable schools as an intervention tool showed improvements regarding the specific project aim on the majority of the participating farms. Farmers and facilitators were convinced of the approach and benefits for dairy herds. Farmers’ attitude and attention towards their herds and their ownership of the process appear to be crucial success factors for herd health and welfare situations. In some European countries, this method has been implemented in advisory practice, and in other regions, there are relevant and promising opportunities.

Keywords

Stable schools Farmer field schools Intervention Herd health Animal welfare Knowledge exchange 

Notes

Acknowledgments

All farmers in the different projects are gratefully acknowledged for their cooperation, active participation in the health and welfare planning processes, and sharing their data. ANIPLAN project was a part of the CORE Organic ERA-net. The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support by the national funding bodies.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvia Ivemeyer
    • 1
    • 8
  • Nick J. Bell
    • 2
  • Jan Brinkmann
    • 3
  • Kornel Cimer
    • 4
  • Elisabeth Gratzer
    • 4
  • Christine Leeb
    • 4
  • Solveig March
    • 3
  • Cecilie Mejdell
    • 5
  • Stephen Roderick
    • 6
  • Gidi Smolders
    • 7
  • Michael Walkenhorst
    • 8
  • Christoph Winckler
    • 4
  • Mette Vaarst
    • 9
  1. 1.Faculty of Organic Agriculture, Farm Animal Behaviour and Husbandry SectionUniversity of KasselWitzenhausenGermany
  2. 2.Farm Animal Health and Production GroupThe Royal Veterinary CollegeHertfordshireUK
  3. 3.Thuenen-Institute of Organic Farming (TI), Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and FisheriesWesterauGermany
  4. 4.Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, Division of Livestock SciencesUniversity of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU)ViennaAustria
  5. 5.Norwegian Veterinary InstituteOsloNorway
  6. 6.Organic Studies CentreDuchy CollegeCamborneUK
  7. 7.Livestock ResearchWageningen UniversityLelystadThe Netherlands
  8. 8.Department of Livestock SciencesResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)FrickSwitzerland
  9. 9.Faculty of Agricultural SciencesUniversity of AarhusTjeleDenmark

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