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As lameness is a major health problem in dairy herds,
a lot of attention goes to the development of automated
lameness-detection systems. Few systems have made it
to the market, as most are currently still in development.
To get these systems ready for practice, developers
need to define which system characteristics are
important for the farmers as end users. In this study,
farmers’ preferences for the different characteristics of
proposed lameness-detection systems were investigated.
In addition, the influence of sociodemographic and farm
characteristics on farmers’ preferences was assessed.
The third aim was to find out if preferences change
after the farmer receives extra information on lameness
and its consequences. Therefore, a discrete choice
experiment was designed with 3 alternative lamenessdetection
systems: a system attached to the cow, a
walkover system, and a camera system. Each system
was defined by 4 characteristics: the percentage missed
lame cows, the percentage false alarms, the system
cost, and the ability to indicate which leg is lame. The
choice experiment was embedded in an online survey.
After answering general questions and choosing their
preferred option in 4 choice sets, extra information on
lameness was provided. Consecutively, farmers were
shown a second block of 4 choice sets. Results from
135 responses showed that farmers’ preferences were
influenced by the 4 system characteristics. The importance
a farmer attaches to lameness, the interval between
calving and first insemination, and the presence
of an estrus-detection system contributed significantly
to the value a farmer attaches to lameness-detection
systems. Farmers who already use an estrus detection
system were more willing to use automatic detection
systems instead of visual lameness detection. Similarly,
farmers who achieve shorter intervals between calving
and first insemination and farmers who find lameness
highly important had a higher tendency to choose for
automatic lameness detection. A sensor attached to the
cow was preferred, followed by a walkover system and
a camera system. In general, visual lameness detection
was preferred over automatic detection systems, but
this preference changed after informing farmers about
the consequences of lameness. To conclude, the system
cost and performance were important features, but
dairy farmers should be sensitized on the consequences
of lameness and its effect on farm profitability.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Pages (from-to)5746-5757
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 30-Mar-2017

ID: 5611178