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Emily Bull : It’s not black and white!

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Emily Bull: It’s not black and white! Understanding the knowledge requirements of dairy-bred beef calf rearers.

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UK livestock systems are complex, they are influenced by many political and social factors as well as biophysical complexities. With increasing pressure to change from NGO campaigns, company commitments to welfare, consumer attitudes and societal license to operate the dairy-bred calf rearing sector sits at the epicentre of these concerns. It currently contributes 60% of the net 0.8 million tonnes of beef produced per year but almost half of prime beef produced in the UK does not meet market specifications, providing insight into potential system failings. A factor associated with inability to meet target weight is poor health, with Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) being a major cause for concern in the industry. BRD is a complex, multifactorial disease and arises due to key stressors that occur due to management or more appropriately, mismanagement within the system. Importantly BRD poses a significant risk to calf welfare, productivity, and antimicrobial use.

This research investigates the challenges, opportunities, and knowledge requirements of farmers in the dairy-bred beef calf rearing sector to develop user-personas. User-personas are commonly used in product design and provide fictional representations of typical users. In this context user-personas are created to inform a knowledge exchange support framework and discussion tool to improve the health and welfare of calves, specifically in relation to BRD. Whilst this seminar will look through the lens of the dairy-bred beef calf rearing sector, participants are encouraged from a range of backgrounds with the method offering potential to a number of agricultural disciplines, especially those located within a complex environment where problems are not clearly defined.

Emily Bull is a Research Assistant and PhD student at the Royal Agricultural University.


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