New Research: Epidemic Outbreaks Amongst Livestock & Farmer Response

During a livestock infection the response of each farmer could be critical to protecting animal welfare nationally and keeping the farming industry afloat.

Now leading researchers in England have reported on their findings – the latest from the BBSRC-funded Farmer-led Epidemic and Endemic Disease-management (FEED) project.

Vaccination Behaviour

Researcher, Dr Ed Hill from the University of Warwick explained:

“Our analysis of livestock infectious disease control policies, under differing social perspectives on vaccination behaviour, can indicate to those developing veterinary health policy the nature of control measures that is optimal both from the industry and the individual farmer-level perspectives.”

The researchers found that what one individual farmer may consider the most effective way to reduce infection risk in their own livestock may not have the same benefit for other farmers.

Using sophisticated mathematical models, researchers at Warwick’s Zeeman Institute for Systems Biology and Infectious Disease Epidemiology Research (SBIDER) and from the University of Nottingham, simulated livestock disease outbreaks in several different scenarios and worked out how the best outcomes could be reached.

Professor Matt Keeling from the University of Warwick said:

“Most models of livestock disease treat farmers as obeying government rules without question or behaving simply to maximise their own profits. The FEED project adds far greater realism, understanding the different factors that drive farmer behaviour in the face of an emerging disease.”

They examined the outcomes of various potential disease outbreaks and the actions that might be taken by farmers, for example, vaccinating animals as a precaution; as a reaction; or not vaccinating at all.

For those interested there is a Twitter thread which further explains the modelling on this latest research.

Click on this link for the full report: Modelling livestock infectious disease control policy under differing social perspectives on vaccination behaviour.

The researchers concluded that the actions of individual farmers should be considered in any major policy framework for tackling future livestock disease outbreaks.

The FEED project focusses on three key diseases:

  • bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD)
  • bovine tuberculosis (TB)
  • foot and mouth disease (FMD)
Image credit Bell

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