Farmed animals have long been the subject of aesthetic appreciation. They are valued for their particular contribution to the aesthetics of agricultural landscapes and can act as important visual signifiers of geographical locality (Evans and Yarwood 1995). In these ways farmed animals may be seen as contributing to the formation of a longstanding romantic or pastoral gaze upon rural or farmed landscapes, a gaze associated with notions of the rural idyll which structure many visitors’ appreciation of the countryside (Urry 1990, 1995). For those actually involved in agriculture, as livestock breeders and farmers, the visual evaluation of farmed animals in the particular sites and spaces of the farm has further layers of interest and intricacy centring around a persistent tension: that within the particularly embodied, biological practices of livestock breeding, there is a constant and complex interplay and relationship between these animals’ functionality and aesthetic appeal. Although anyone might experience an aesthetic response to a farmed animal, it is the particularly intense engagements with them experienced by breeders that produce the situated aesthetic encounters with and knowledges of them that interest us in this chapter.
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