A survey of biosecurity-related practices, opinions and communications across dairy farm veterinarians and advisors

Vet J. 2014 May;200(2):261-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.02.010. Epub 2014 Feb 25.


Biosecurity at farm-level can often be poorly implemented, and lack of information has been cited by many studies as a potential explanation. Veterinary practitioners (VPs) and dairy advisors (DAs) play a central role in the provision of animal health and management services to dairy farmers. The objective of this study was to document and compare biosecurity-related practices and opinions across VPs and DAs in Ireland. A selection of veterinary experts (VEs) from outside of Ireland was also surveyed. Questionnaires were completed and response rates of 47% (VPs), 97% (DAs), and 65% (VEs) were achieved. Significant differences were identified in the promotion and implementation of biosecurity between VPs and DAs, with a higher proportion of VPs regularly receiving requests from (P = 0.004), and dispensing advice to (P < 0.0001), their farm clients. Communication between DAs and VPs was sub-optimal with over 60% of each group not in regular communication with each other. With regard to the main farmer motivation for biosecurity implementation, the majority of VPs (62%) prioritised external factors such as 'economic benefit' and 'mandatory obligation', while the majority of DAs prioritised health/animal-related factors (69%), which were similar to those of farmers (83.1%), although they remained significantly less likely (OR = 1.8) than farmers to choose such motivators (P = 0.005). Inconsistencies in the implementation of, and in opinions relating to, farm biosecurity were highlighted across all the groups surveyed emphasising the need for standardised information and improved communication.

Keywords: Advisor; Biosecurity; Communication; Dairy farmer; Ranking; Veterinarian.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / etiology
  • Cattle Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Communication*
  • Dairying / methods*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Security Measures*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Veterinarians / psychology