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Lameness in English lowland sheep flocks:
farmer perspectives and behaviour


Previous studies have used farmer opinion and estimates of lameness to look for associations between prevalence of lameness and farmer behaviours and attitudes and have shown that farmers do not always use their ideal strategies. This study aims to test the reporting of farmer estimates of lameness and to understand farmer motivations for management of lameness.

Thirty-five farm visits were conducted. Results show that all farmers recognised sheep lame when they had locomotion score ≥ 2 but only 42% caught locomotion score 2 sheep for inspection. Farmers tended to under report the prevalence of lameness when compared with the researcher’s estimate (P>0.05) and results suggest that the average prevalence of lameness in the UK is probably 2% higher than the current estimate of 8-10%. However, the use of farmer estimates of prevalence of lameness in sheep in postal surveys is a reasonably accurate and reliable mechanism for data collection.

Further work includes a study to investigate the effects of foot trimming and interviews with veterinary advisors of farmers’ who took part in this study. Analysis of 17 semi structured interviews from the farm visits is underway and will be used to develop a postal questionnaire to validate the reliability of interview data.

Funded by a BBSRC Pfizer CASE studentship


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Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

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Project Team:


Elisabeth King

Professor Laura Green