Paula Baker, a Project Research Officer at the Laying Hen and Welfare Forum (LHWF), recently led a communications workshop aimed at poultry vets and poultry advisors. Here, she explains why the method is important.
“The workshop aimed to provide the egg sector with key communication skills using motivational interviewing techniques.
It identified some key areas that advisors face when going on-farm and how these might be addressed.
Common challenges identified when offering advice or recommendations to poultry producers include a shortage of labour on-farm, economic and time constraints, all of which were made worse by dealing with the recent threat from avian influenza.
These workshops are an extension of a previous EU project, “Maintaining Feather Cover in Laying Hens”, where motivational interviewing was demonstrated as successful in encouraging poultry producers to adopt good practices on-farm, taking up measures aimed at helping to reduce feather pecking in their flocks.
The project results also highlighted that producers found poultry vets and other poultry advisors a good source of information when it came to managing laying hen flocks.
The workshop underlined the theory of motivational interviewing and techniques.
The day also consisted of interactive sessions practising the techniques among small groups.
Activities such as practising open-ended questions, affirmations, reflective listening, and summaries were part of the learning style.
Elicit-provide-elicit and summaries are two critical skills in motivational interviewing, a collaborative approach to help people change their behaviour.
To put it simply:
- “Elicit”: Find out what the producer already knows
- “Provide”: Provide additional information as appropriate
- “Elicit”: Ask the producer for their reaction
It is a simple but powerful technique to share information with producers or customers in a way that respects their autonomy and engages them in the process.
There was ample time for the participants to share their experiences and issues.
Key speaker poultry veterinarian Stephen Lister from Crowshall Veterinary Services presented the benefits of vets using motivational interviewing and the health downsides of poor feather cover and feather pecking.
This was followed with a session covering on-farm interventions to reduce feather pecking, topics such as what enrichments work on-farm and what it takes to create an attractive range to promote ranging behaviour.
We gathered some quotes from delegates from the day. Steve Clout, sales manager for Humphrey Feed & Pullets, said: “I thought the whole presentation was of great interest and would be keen to encourage my colleagues to attend other meeting locations.
“Having attended many sales-type training courses, it was very refreshing to have one that was poultry-focused, making it much easier to relate to”.
Rearing manager David Preece from Stonegate added: “I found the Motivational Interviewing workshop most insightful, and it will certainly assist me in my role conversing with our egg producers.”
Due to the workshop’s success, the LHWF are offering to deliver more workshops throughout the UK.
The next workshop will take place at the NFU, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire in July, (exact date to be confirmed soon).
For more information, or to register your interest in participating, email Paula Baker on firstname.lastname@example.org