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Title: Measuring farmers' attitude towards breeding tools: the Livestock Breeding Attitude Scale
Authors: Martín Collado, Daniel
Díaz, C.
Benito Ruiz, G.
Ondé, D.
Rubio, A.
Byrne, T.J.
Issue Date: 2021
Citation: Animal, in press, (2021)
Abstract: Under-use of genetic improvement tools and low participation in breeding programmes are key drivers of breeding programmes under-performance. Both aspects are heavily influenced by farmers attitudes which, to date, have not been analysed in an objective and systematic manner. A key factor constraining the implementation of attitudinal studies towards livestock breeding tools is the lack of a reference scale for measuring attitudes. In this research, we provide the livestock breeding sector with such a reference measure. We developed the scale following the standardized psychometric methodologies and statistical tools. Then, as a case study, we used the scale to explore the attitudes of beef and dairy sheep farmers in Australia, New Zealand and Spain and analysed farmer and farming system factors related to those attitudes. Fourteen sheep and beef breed associations facilitated the implementation of a survey of 547 farmers, generating data that was used for the scale evaluation. The relationship between attitudinal factors and farmer and farming system factors was analysed using generalized linear models across and within breeds. The results suggest that the 8-item definitive scale we have developed is appropriate to measure farmer attitudes. We found that attitudes towards genetic improvement tools have two components; i) traditional selection and ii) genetic and genomic selection combined. This means that positive attitudes towards traditional phenotypic selection do not necessarily imply a negative attitude towards genetic and genomic selection tools. Farmer attitudes varied greatly not only across the studied breeds, species and countries, but also within them. High-educated farmers of business-oriented farms tend to have the most negative attitude towards traditional selection. However, attitudes towards genetic and genomic selection tools could not be linked to these factors. Finally, we found that the breed raised had a large effect on farmer attitude. These findings may help in the evolution of breeding programmes by identifying both the farmers most inclined to uptake breeding innovations in the early stages of its establishment and the farmers who would be more reluctant to participate in such programmes, thus informing where to focus extension efforts.
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