Research has been scarce when it comes to the motivational and behavioral sides of farmers' expectations related to dairy herd health management programs. The objectives of this study were to explore farmers' expectations related to participation in a health management program by: 1) identifying important ambitions, goals and subjective well-being among farmers, 2) submitting those data to a quantitative analysis thereby characterizing perspective(s) of value added by health management programs among farmers; and 3) to characterize perceptions of farmers' goals among veterinarians.
The subject was initially explored by means of literature, interviews and discussions with farmers, herd health management consultants and researchers to provide an understanding (a concourse) of the research entity. The concourse was then broken down into 46 statements. Sixteen Danish dairy farmers and 18 veterinarians associated with one large nationwide veterinary practice were asked to rank the 46 statements that defined the concourse. Next, a principal component analysis was applied to identify correlated statements and thus families of perspectives between respondents. Q-methodology was utilized to represent each of the statements by one row and each respondent by one column in the matrix. A subset of the farmers participated in a series of semi-structured interviews to face validate the concourse and to discuss subjects like animal welfare, veterinarians' competences as experienced by the farmers and time constraints in the farmers' everyday life.
Farmers' views could be described by four families of perspectives: Teamwork, Animal welfare, Knowledge dissemination, and Production. Veterinarians believed that farmers' primary focus was on production and profit, however, farmers' valued teamwork and animal welfare more.
The veterinarians in this study appear to focus too much on financial performance and increased production when compared to most of the participating farmers' expectations. On the other hand veterinarians did not focus enough on the major products, which farmers really wanted to buy, i.e. teamwork and animal welfare. Consequently, disciplines like sociology, economics and marketing may offer new methodological approaches to veterinarians as these disciplines have understood that accounting for individual differences is central to motivate change, i.e. 'know thy customer'.