Veterinary interventions to improve neonatal survival on British beef and sheep farms: a qualitative study.

Katherine E. Adam, Ann Bruce, Alexander Corbishley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Neonatal lamb and calf deaths are a major issue in UK agriculture. Consistent mortality rates over several decades, despite scientific advances, indicate that socioeconomic factors must also be understood and addressed for effective veterinary service delivery to improve lamb and calf survival. This qualitative study utilised semi-structured interviews with vets and farmers to explore the on- farm mechanisms and social context, with a particular focus on the role of the vet, to manage and reduce neonatal losses in beef calves and lambs on British farms. Data were analysed using a realist evaluation framework to assess how the mechanisms and context for veterinary service delivery influence survival as the outcome of interest. A lack of a clear outcome definition of neonatal mortality, and the financial, social and emotional impact of losses on both vets and farmers, are barriers to recording of losses and standardisation of acceptable mortality levels at a population level. Despite this, there appears to be an individual threshold on each farm at which losses become perceived as problematic, and veterinary involvement shifts from preventive to reactive mechanisms for service delivery. The veterinarian-farmer relationship is central to efforts to maximise survival, but the social and economic capital available to farmers influences the quality of this relationship. Health inequalities are well recognised as an issue in human healthcare and the findings indicate that similar inequalities exist in livestock health systems.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Veterinary Science
Early online date4 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Feb 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Veterinary service delivery
  • neonatal survival
  • antibiotic usage
  • health inequalities
  • qualitative


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