Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Biosecurity practices in Belgian cattle farming: level of implementation, constraints and weaknesses.

Abstract

Over the last few years, a shift from curative towards preventive medicine occurred in the livestock sector. This led to an increased importance of biosecurity to better control infectious diseases by preventing their introduction and/or reducing their spread. Farmers are the main responsible actors of biosecurity measures (BSM). Existing studies report a low implementation level of BSM by the cattle farmers. Barriers such as cost, usefulness, importance, workload and lack of knowledge were investigated but the decision-making process of farmers related to a given BSM is not yet clarified. The objectives of this study were to (i) assess the level of implementation of BSM in cattle farms, (ii) assess the correlation between the importance that farmers give to a BSM and its effective implementation and (iii) identify the main reasons of non-implementation. A randomized survey was implemented in Belgium from December 2016 up to April 2017 with face-to-face interviews conducted in 100 Belgian farms. A descriptive analysis of data was performed using Microsoft Excel® and Stata14®. Chi-square and Spearman's rank correlation tests, respectively, allowed comparing implementation levels in dairy herds vs. beef herds and investigating the correlation between the importance that farmers give to a BSM and its implementation level. Biosecurity measures were poorly implemented to prevent disease introduction through direct contact and almost not to avoid indirect transmission. Some measures showed a significant difference in terms of implementation level between beef and dairy herds. A positive correlation was highlighted between the importance that farmers give to a BSM and its actual effective implementation. Perceived lack of efficiency, feasibility and usefulness are the reasons most often mentioned for non-implementation. Other factors potentially influencing the decision-making process should be further investigated and clarified. Evidence-based studies would be useful to convince the farmers of the need of implementing BSM.