• Broken biosecurity? Veterinarians’ framing of biosecurity on dairy farms in England

      Shortall, Orla; Ruston, Annmarie; Green, Martin; Brennan, Marnie; Wapenaar, Wendela; Kaler, Jasmeet; University of Derby; University of Nottingham; Canterbury Christ Church University (Elsevier, 2016-06-04)
      There is seen to be a need for better biosecurity – the control of disease spread on and off farm – in the dairy sector. Veterinarians play a key role in communicating and implementing biosecurity measures on farm, and little research has been carried out on how veterinarians see their own and farmers’ roles in improving biosecurity. In order to help address this gap, qualitative interviews were carried out with 28 veterinarians from Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon farm accredited practices in England. The results were analysed using a social ecology framework and frame analysis to explore not only what barriers vets identified, but also how vets saw the problem of inadequate biosecurity as being located. Veterinarians’ frames of biosecurity were analysed at the individual, interpersonal and contextual scales, following the social ecology framework, which see the problem in different ways with different solutions. Farmers and veterinarians were both framed by veterinarians as individualised groups lacking consistency. This means that best practice is not spread and veterinarians are finding it difficult to work as a group to move towards a “predict and prevent” model of veterinary intervention. But diversity and individualism were also framed as positive and necessary among veterinarians to the extent that they can tailor advice to individual farmers. Veterinarians saw their role in educating the farmer as not only being about giving advice to farmers, but trying to convince the farmer of their perspective and values on disease problems. Vets felt they were meeting with limited success because vets and farmers may be emphasising different framings of biosecurity. Vets emphasise the individual and interpersonal frames that disease problems are a problem on farm that can and should be controlled by individual farmers working with vets. According to vets, farmers may emphasise the contextual frame that biosecurity is largely outside of their control on dairy farms because of logistical, economic and geographical factors, and so some level of disease on dairy farms is not entirely unexpected or controllable. There needs to be a step back within the vet-farmer relationship to realise that there may be different perspectives at play, and within the wider debate to explore the question of what a biosecure dairy sector would look like within a rapidly changing agricultural landscape
    • Challenges facing the farm animal veterinary profession in England: A qualitative study of veterinarians’ perceptions and responses

      Ruston, Annmarie; Shortall, Orla; Green, Martin; Brennan, Marnie; Wapenaar, Wendela; Kaler, Jasmeet; University of Derby; Univeristy of Nottingham; Canterbury Christ Church University (Elsevier, 2016-05-14)
      The farm animal veterinary profession in the UK has faced a number of challenges in recent decades related to the withdrawal of government funding and a contraction of the agricultural sector. They have come under pressure to respond by developing skills and focusing on disease prevention advisory services. However, this puts veterinarians in competition with other providers of these services, and moves in this direction have only been partial. Failure to respond to these challenges puts the veterinary profession at risk of de-professionalisation—a loss of their monopoly over knowledge, an erosion of client beliefs in their service ethos and a loss of work autonomy. This paper explores how farm animal veterinarians in England perceive these challenges and are responding to them. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were carried out with 28 veterinarians from Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon farm accredited practices. Veterinarians were chosen from high, medium and low density cattle farming regions. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and themes identified through the constant comparison method. The majority of respondents recognised the challenges facing the veterinary profession. Most believed their role had changed, moving towards that of a disease prevention adviser who was part of the farm management team. In terms of maintaining and redefining their professional status, farm animal veterinarians do have a defined body of knowledge and the ability to develop trusting relationships with clients, which enhances their competitiveness. However, while they recognise the changes and challenges, moves towards a disease prevention advisory model have only been partial. There seem to be little effort towards using Farm accreditation status or other strategies to promote their services. They do not appear to be finding effective strategies for putting their knowledge on disease prevention into practice. Disease prevention appears to be delivered on farm on an ad hoc basis, they are not promoting their disease prevention services to farmers effectively or using their professional position to stave off competition. Farm animals veterinarians will need to realign their veterinary expertise to the demands of the market, work together rather than in competition, improve their skills in preventive medicine, consolidate information given by non-veterinary advisors, develop new business models appropriate to their services and develop entrepreneurial skills to demonstrate their market value if they are to avoid becoming marginalised