Exploring the role of voluntary disease schemes on UK farmer bio-security behaviours: Findings from the Norfolk-Suffolk Bovine Viral Diarrhoea control scheme

PLoS One. 2018 Feb 12;13(2):e0179877. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179877. eCollection 2018.


The article describes the influence of a disease control scheme (the Norfolk-Suffolk Bovine Viral Diarrhoea Disease (BVD) Eradication scheme) on farmers' bio-security attitudes and behaviours. In 2010, a survey of 100 cattle farmers (53 scheme members vs. 47 out of scheme farmers) was undertaken among cattle farmers residing in Norfolk and Suffolk counties in the UK. A cross-sectional independent measures design was employed. The main analytical tool was content analysis. The following variables at the farmer-level were explored: the specific BVD control measures adopted, livestock disease priorities, motivation for scheme membership, wider knowledge acquisition, biosecurity behaviours employed and training course attendance. The findings suggest that participation in the BVD scheme improved farmers' perception of the scheme benefits and participation in training courses. However, no association was found between the taking part in the BVD scheme and livestock disease priorities or motivation for scheme participation, or knowledge about BVD bio-security measures employed. Equally importantly, scheme membership did appear to influence the importance accorded specific bio-security measures. Yet such ranking did not appear to reflect the actual behaviours undertaken. As such, disease control efforts alone while necessary, are insufficient. Rather, to enhance farmer bio-security behaviours significant effort must be made to address underlying attitudes to the specific disease threat involved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Bovine Virus Diarrhea-Mucosal Disease / prevention & control*
  • Cattle
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Security Measures*
  • United Kingdom

Grant support

The study was funded by the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Project SE4003 (PIs Professors Joe Brownlie and George Gunn). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.