Animal health workshops improve understanding

04 January 2016

If you have attended a More Beef from Pastures (MBfP) event, you have probably been asked to complete a registration form at the start and an evaluation form at the end. You may have even used an automated ‘clicker’ to answer various questions throughout an event. These are some of the ways MLA seeks to monitor and evaluate the success of events and activities.

Monitoring and evaluation plays an important role in making sure the MBfP program delivers what producers need to run productive and profitable businesses.

The following example shows how monitoring and evaluation is used to customise delivery and assess the effectiveness of events.

A series of cattle and sheep health and biosecurity workshops were held earlier this year across Tasmania. Participants in these events learnt about drench resistant worms (sheep and cattle), bovine Johne's disease (BJD), ovine footrot and pestivirus, as well as on-farm biosecurity and how it can be used to prevent and manage these pests and diseases.

The time spent on each topic was tailored according to participant interest. This was done by asking them at the start of each workshop which topics they were interested in learning about through use of the ‘clicker’ system. The results were shown for all to see enabling the presenters to tailor the information delivered and participants to understand what others were interested in.

To capture changes in knowledge, participants were also asked a series of multiple choice questions using the ‘clicker’ system before and after each topic was delivered. A summary of the answers was shown after each question. This method allowed presenters to focus on areas where better understanding was needed and participants to understand why certain aspects were being covered. Fifty percent of questions were answered correctly before the information was delivered, increasing to 87% afterwards indicating attendee’s knowledge had increased as a result of the information delivered.

Following the workshops, the majority of participants (73% of respondents) indicated through the evaluation forms completed at the end of the workshop that they would make changes as a result of what they had learnt. Examples of these changes include:

  • undertaking worm egg counts before drenching livestock
  • reassessing pestivirus management strategies
  • considering the BJD status of cattle before making an agistment decision.

They also indicated they would improve on-farm biosecurity including:

  • introducing better quarantine procedures and longer isolation periods
  • maintaining more secure boundary fences
  • backgrounding new purchases more thoroughly.

The participants indicated their confidence in keeping these pests and diseases off their property, or to manage those already present, had increased from an average of four out of ten before the workshop to seven afterwards, as a result of what they had learnt.

Participants rated the workshops highly overall, with an average satisfaction rating of 8.5 out of ten. The value of the workshops in assisting them manage their enterprise was also highly rated at nine out of ten. All indicated they would recommend the workshops to others.

The majority of participants indicated they were interested in attending a workshop to develop a farm biosecurity plan.

The results of this and all monitoring and evaluation collected through MBfP is used to improve delivery, ensure events meet producer needs and help maximise the return on investment of producer levies.

These workshops were delivered by the Livestock Biosecurity Network (LBN) with financial support from More Beef from Pastures and Making More from Sheep.

If you are interested in attending a livestock health and biosecurity workshop, including on-farm biosecurity planning, contact your regional LBN officer.

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