Sheep farmers’ attitudes towards lameness control: Qualitative exploration of factors affecting adoption of the lameness Five-Point Plan

Clegg, S., Best, C.M., Pyatt, A.Z., Roden, J., Behnke, M.C. and Phillips, K. (2021) Sheep farmers’ attitudes towards lameness control: Qualitative exploration of factors affecting adoption of the lameness Five-Point Plan. PLOS ONE, 16 (2).

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In 2014, best-practice recommendations to treat and control lameness in sheep in the UK were consolidated into a national program, the Five-Point Plan (5PP). As recent evidence suggests that only the minority of sheep farmers are implementing all management practices listed in the 5PP, qualitative investigation is vital to ensure future promotion is aligned with psychological and contextual factors affecting farmers’ decision-making. This qualitative study sought to explore farmers’ attitudes and the factors affecting uptake of best-practice measures listed in the 5PP. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in 2019 with 12 sheep farmers from England and Wales. In accordance with Thematic Analysis and the principles of Grounded Theory, data collection and analysis were performed iteratively. Two overarching themes, delineated by subthemes, emerged during analysis; (1) Barriers to adoption of 5PP measures and (2) Motivation to adopt 5PP measures. Various farmer-centric factors and physical resources were identified as key barriers or obstacles that limited farmers’ ability to implement 5PP measures outright, or restricted their ability to make changes to facilitate future adoption. Conversely, internal and external influences were identified to increase farmers’ willingness and motivation to implement practices listed on the 5PP. Heterogeneity in farmer perceptions, attitudes, experiences and circumstances identified in this study highlights the difficulty in promoting a one-size-fits-all lameness control plan, where a unique combination of intrinsic factors, social influences, and physical restrictions affect implementation. Future initiatives should focus on removing barriers by changing farmers’ perceptions and mindset towards lameness control, and building farmers’ confidence in their ability to implement practices. Furthermore, farmers’ social licence to farm and their desire to improve their reputation within society, presents an important opportunity to further engage farmers in implementing control practices. Increasing peer-to-peer knowledge transfer opportunities and effective farmer-veterinarian communication and rapport could help establish 5PP measures as normative

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Veterinary Health and Animal Sciences (from 1.08.20)
Depositing User: Mrs Rachael Harper
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2021 16:55
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2021 11:29

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