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The association between farmers’ participation in herd health programmes and their behaviour concerning treatment of mild clinical mastitis

Ann-Kristina Lind1*, Peter T Thomsen2, Simo Rintakoski3, Mari N Espetvedt4, Cecilia Wolff5 and Hans Houe1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Large Animal Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Grønnegårdsvej 8, Denmark

2 Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, Blichers Allé 20, Tjele, DK-8830, Denmark

3 Department of Veterinary Biosciences, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 66, Helsinki, FI-00014, Finland

4 Department of Production Animal Clinical Science, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, P.O. Box 8146 Dep, Oslo, NO-0033, Norway

5 Department of Clinical Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, P.O. Box 7054, Uppsala, SE-750 07, Sweden

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Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 2012, 54:62  doi:10.1186/1751-0147-54-62

Published: 2 November 2012



In Denmark, it has recently become mandatory for all dairy farmers with more than 100 cows to sign up for a herd health programme. Three herd health programmes are available. These differ in a number of aspects, including the frequency of veterinary visits and the farmer’s access to prescription drugs. The objective of this study was to investigate whether dairy farmers’ behavioural intentions, i.e. to call a veterinarian or start medical treatment on the day that they detect a cow with mild clinical mastitis (MCM), are different depending on the type of herd health programme.


A questionnaire survey based on the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) was conducted. TPB proposes that a person’s behavioural intention is strongly correlated with his or her actual behaviour. Three behavioural factors determine the behavioural intention: attitude, subjective norm and perceived behavioural control. Each of these factors is decided by a set of beliefs, each of which in turn is weighted by an evaluation: 1) the expected outcomes of performing the behaviour, 2) what a person believes that others think of the behaviour, and 3) the person’s perceived power to influence the behaviour.

A set of statements about the treatment of MCM based on interviews with 38 dairy farmers were identified initially. The statements were rephrased as questions and the resulting questionnaire was distributed to 400 randomly selected Danish dairy farmers who use the two most restrictive herd health programmes, either Core or Module1, and to all 669 farmers with the least restrictive herd health programme, Module2. The association between intention and the herd health programme was modelled using logistic regression.


The farmers with the Module2 herd health programme had a significantly higher behavioural intention to perform the behaviour, when compared to farmers with a more restrictive herd health programme (OR = 2.1, p < 0.0001).


Danish dairy farmers who participate in Module2 herd health programme had a higher intention to treat cases of MCM, compared to farmers who participate in a more restrictive herd health programme in which the veterinarian initiates treatments.

Farmer behaviour; Theory of Planned Behaviour; Mild clinical mastitis; Herd health programme