This paper engages with debates surrounding practices of care in complex situations where human and non-human lives are entangled. Focusing on the embodied practices of care involving farmers, their advisers and cows and sheep in the North of England, the paper explores how biosocial collectivities fabricate care around endemic health conditions in specific farming situations. Based on in-depth research with farmers and advisers, the paper examines how Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) and lameness are made ‘visible’ and become cared about, what practices are mobilised in response to an evident need to care, and how some animals are, paradoxically, made ‘killable’ in the practising of care for populations of cows and sheep. The paper discusses how the perspectives of farmers and advisers are aligned in developing practices of care for animals, although there are some tensions and differences between these groups. Advisers focus on making endemic diseases important to farmers, so that they become enrolled into taking prescribed action. However, the sets of competing priorities farmers have to address, in complex on-farm situations, along with some resistance to taking prescribed action, produces other perspectives on and practices of care. The paper concludes by emphasising the problematics of practising care in farming, showing how care for endemic disease coexists with harm to some animals and the reproduction of modes of farming which make it more likely that endemic conditions persist.
Holloway, L., Mahon, N., Clark, B., & Proctor, A. (2022). Living with cows, sheep and endemic disease in the north of England: embodied care, biosocial collectivities and killability. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, https://doi.org/10.1177/25148486221105878