Putting sheep scab in its place: A more relational approach

Journal article


Smith, Alice E. O., Ruston, Annmarie, Doidge, Charlotte, Lovatt, Fiona and Kaler, Jasmeet 2022. Putting sheep scab in its place: A more relational approach. Preventive Veterinary Medicine. 206, p. 105711. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.prevetmed.2022.105711
AuthorsSmith, Alice E. O., Ruston, Annmarie, Doidge, Charlotte, Lovatt, Fiona and Kaler, Jasmeet
AbstractSince the reintroduction of sheep scab within the UK, its prevalence has increased despite several industry-led initiatives to control and manage the disease. Some studies have suggested that initiatives or policies should instead focus on specific places, such as geographically high-risk areas for sheep scab, which could allow for a more targeted approach. However, this risk of sheep scab has been measured in set geographical areas, without the reference to the interplay of topography, host, pathogen and the way in which humans socially and culturally define risk and place, potentially limiting the effectiveness of preventative initiatives. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to understand how place influences sheep farmers' approaches to the identification and management of the risk of sheep scab in their flocks. Qualitative data was collected from 43 semi-structured interviews with sheep farmers from England, Scotland, and Wales and was analysed by using the constant comparative approach. The codes were grouped into four concepts that influenced farmers' decision-making strategies for sheep scab control: perception of place; risk identification; risk categorisation; and risk management. These concepts were used as an analytical framework to identify three different 'places': 'uncontrollable places', 'liminal places' and 'protective places'. Each place reflects a different sheep scab control strategy used by farmers and shaped by their perceptions of place and risk. The 'uncontrollable places' category represented farmers who were located in areas that were geographically high-risk for sheep scab and who experienced a high frequency of sheep scab infestations in their flocks. The risk posed by their local landscape and neighbouring farmers, who neglected to engage in preventative behaviours, led them to feel unable to engage in effective risk management. Thus, they viewed scab as uncontrollable. The farmers within the 'liminal places' category were characterised as farmers who were located in high-risk areas for sheep scab, but experienced low levels of sheep scab infestations. These farmers characterised the risks associated with sheep scab management in terms of needing to protect their reputation and felt more responsibility for controlling sheep scab, which influenced them to engage in more protective measures. The farmers within the 'protective places' category were characterised as farming within low-risk areas and thus experienced a low level of sheep scab infestations. These farmers also described their risk in terms of their reputation and the responsibility they held for protecting others. However, they sought to rely on their low geographical risk of sheep scab as a main source of protection and therefore did not always engage in protective measures. These results suggest that place-based effects have significant impacts on sheep farmers' beliefs and behaviours and thus should be considered by policymakers when developing future strategies for sheep scab control. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.]
KeywordsSheep scab; Constant comparative method; Decision making; Sheep farmer; Farmer behaviours; Qualitative research
Year2022
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Journal citation206, p. 105711
PublisherElsevier
ISSN1873-1716
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.prevetmed.2022.105711
Official URLhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.prevetmed.2022.105711
Publication dates
Online08 Jul 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted05 Jul 2022
Deposited03 Aug 2022
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Output statusPublished
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