The aims of this study were 1) to explore different motivating factors and to quantify their importance in decisions of farmers on improving mastitis management, 2) to evaluate different quality payment schemes as extra incentive mechanisms for farmers, and 3) to link the motivating factors to farmer characteristics. Data on characteristics of farmers were obtained through a traditional paper-based questionnaire (n = 100). Data on the factors motivating farmers to improve mastitis management were collected in a computer-interactive mode. Adaptive conjoint analysis was used to investigate perceptions of farmers of the importance of factors. Factors that are internal to the farm performance and the individual farmer provided more motivation than external factors implying esteem and awareness of the whole dairy sector performance. Internal nonmonetary factors relating to internal esteem and taking pleasure in healthy animals on the farm were equally motivating as monetary factors affecting farm economic performance. The identified difference in perceptions of farmers of importance of extra financial incentive based on bulk milk somatic cell count (BMSCC) depending on whether farmers think in terms of quality premium or penalty for a lower and a higher BMSCC, respectively, suggested that farmers are expected to be more motivated by a price decrease for milk with a greater BMSCC than by a price increase for milk with a lower BMSCC. In this respect, quality penalties were found to be more effective in motivating farmers than quality premiums. Two-stage cluster analysis of individual perceptions resulted in 3 distinct clusters according to motivation of farmers: premium- or penalty-oriented motivation, motivation to have an efficient (well-organized) farm that easily complies with regulatory requirements, and basic economic motivation. The obtained results highlight possible areas of improvement in incentive and educational programs aimed at improving mastitis management.
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