Farmer decision-making and risk perceptions towards outwintering cattle
Increasing financial pressures has led farmers to manage cattle outside for the winter months. In temperate areas the environmental risks of outwintering cattle are exacerbated by cooler and wetter weather and identifying how farmers perceive these risks is essential to understanding how potential hazards could be mitigated. A series of workshops were conducted with cattle producers in England and Wales to understand their perceptions of the risks, their decision-making with respect to outwintering and their options for mitigating these risks. A range of risks were identified, but emphasis was placed on environmentally-related risks, such as soil damage, and on social risks, such as public perception of their treatment of the animals. The uncertainties due to the weather were highlighted as the most unmanageable risk. Another significant barrier to mitigating environmental impacts emerged from the lack of options towards choosing appropriate fields in which to conduct outwintering. We argue that the farmer-led nature of outwintering and the development of a wide range of systems is evidence of outwintering being a systems-innovation.We conclude that there is a role for Government intervention through the provision of information which clarifies cross-compliance breaches, but also encourages farmer-led innovation to develop more responsive outwintering systems. 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Journal Title/Title of Proceedings
Journal of Environmental Management