Heterogeneity of farmers' preferences for improvements in dairy cow traits

Peer-reviewed article about an application of 1000minds:

D Martin-Collado, T Byrne, P Amer, B Santos, M Axford & J Pryce (2015), “Analyzing the heterogeneity of farmers’ preferences for improvements in dairy cow traits using farmer typologies”, Journal of Dairy Science 96, 4148-61


Giving consideration to farmers’ preferences for improvements in animal traits when designing genetic selection tools such as selection indexes might increase the uptake of these tools. The increase in use of genetic selection tools will, in turn, assist in the realization of genetic gain in breeding programs. However, the determination of farmers’ preferences is not trivial because of its large heterogeneity. The aim of this study was to quantify Australian dairy farmers’ preferences for cow trait improvements to inform and ultimately direct the choice of traits and selection indexes in the 2014 review of the National Breeding Objective. A specific aim was to analyze the heterogeneity of preferences for cow trait improvements by determining whether there are farmer types that can be identified with specific patterns of preferences. We analyzed whether farmer types differed in farming system, socioeconomic profile, and attitudes toward breeding and genetic evaluation tools. An online survey was developed to explore farmers’ preferences for improvement in 13 cow traits. The pairwise comparisons method was used to derive a ranking of the traits for each respondent. A total of 551 farmers fully completed the survey. A principal component analysis followed by a Ward hierarchical cluster analysis was used to group farmers according to their preferences. Three types of farmers were determined: (1) production-focused farmers, who gave the highest preference of all for improvements in protein yield, lactation persistency, feed efficiency, cow live weight, and milking speed; (2) functionality-focused farmers with the highest preferences of all for improvements in mastitis, lameness, and calving difficulty; and (3) type-focused farmers with the highest preferences of all for mammary system and type. Farmer types differed in their age, their attitudes toward genetic selection, and in the selection criteria they use. Surprisingly, farmer types did not differ for herd size, calving, feeding system, or breed. These results support the idea that preferences for cow trait improvements are intrinsic to farmers and not to production systems or breeds. As a result of this study, and some bioeconomic modeling (not included in this study), the Australian dairy industry has implemented a main index and 2 alternative indexes targeting the different farmer types described here.

* Reproduced from the article.

See also

Breeding articles