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Exploring farmers’ understanding of and responses to endemic animal health and welfare issues in the UK

Mahon, Niamh; Clark, Beth; Proctor, Amy; Holloway, Lewis


Niamh Mahon

Beth Clark

Amy Proctor

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Professor Lewis Holloway
Professor of Human Geography, Director of Research (School of Environmental Science), Chair of the Faculty of Science and Engineering Ethics Committee


Background: This paper uses two endemic health conditions to explore farmer understandings of and responses to livestock health and welfare issues. Methods: The findings are based on a survey of 42 livestock farmers in the north of England, exploring how they manage lameness in sheep and cattle and bovine viral diarrhoea in cattle. We identify similarities and differences in their approaches. Results: Two themes emerge. (1) The importance of difference between animal types (i.e., beef cattle, dairy cattle and sheep), which highlights the ‘complex’ and ‘multifactorial’ nature of animal health and welfare. It is necessary to unpack this to understand the interplay of animal, resource and management issues in farmer responses. (2) Previous research has identified ‘lack of knowledge’ as a key welfare issue. Our findings reveal farmers are in fact seeking, acquiring and sharing knowledge on practices related to the management of animal health however individual circumstance and context influence how this translates in practice. Conclusion: Our research highlights the importance of integrating different perspectives and knowledges as a way of understanding and responding to animal health and welfare concerns. Facilitating knowledge exchange both within and between different groups and sectors is vital in achieving this.


Mahon, N., Clark, B., Proctor, A., & Holloway, L. (in press). Exploring farmers’ understanding of and responses to endemic animal health and welfare issues in the UK. Veterinary Record, Article e941.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 28, 2021
Online Publication Date Sep 23, 2021
Deposit Date Aug 28, 2021
Publicly Available Date Sep 24, 2022
Journal Veterinary Record
Print ISSN 0042-4900
Electronic ISSN 2042-7670
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Article Number e941
Public URL


VR Manuscript 13.08.21 (119 Kb)

Technical Information
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: FULL CITE, which has been published in final form at [Link to final article using the DOI]. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

Published article (230 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2021 The Authors. Veterinary Record published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Veterinary Association<br /> <br /> This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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