Veterinary herd health management programs on dairy farms in the Netherlands: use, execution, and relations to farmer characteristics

J Dairy Sci. 2013 Mar;96(3):1623-37. doi: 10.3168/jds.2012-6106. Epub 2013 Jan 26.


Veterinary herd health management (VHHM) programs are of growing importance to the dairy industry; they support farmers in the shift from curative to preventive health management, caused by increased herd sizes and quality standards in dairy farming. Farmers participating in VHHM are visited every 4 to 6 wk by their veterinarian, who checks the animals and herd management to intervene in a proactive way with problems regarding animal health and animal welfare. At present, no good overview exists of how VHHM is executed on Dutch dairy farms, and whether different farmers require different types of VHHM. Aims of this study were to (1) map out how many farmers participate in VHHM, (2) describe how VHHM is executed on the farms, and (3) see whether certain farmer characteristics are related to farmers' participation in VHHM. In 2011, a questionnaire was sent to 5,000 Dutch dairy farmers per e-mail. Part 1 of the questionnaire focused on participation in and execution of VHHM and part 2 focused on farmer characteristics regarding external information. Returned questionnaires (n=1,013) were summarized and statistically analyzed. In this study 68.6% of the responding farmers participated in any form of VHHM. The most important activities were fertility checks and advice about fertility; the least important were housing and claw health. Relationships between farmer characteristics (use of and trust in information) and participation in VHHM were found.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Dairying / methods*
  • Dairying / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Netherlands
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires