Ways of knowing the health of livestock populations: The age of surveys, 1928-65

Woods, Abigail (2023) Ways of knowing the health of livestock populations: The age of surveys, 1928-65. Medical History . ISSN 0025-7273

Ways of knowing the health of livestock populations: The age of surveys, 1928-65
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This article advances historical understandings of health, veterinary medicine and livestock agriculture by examining how, in mid-20th century Britain, the diseases of livestock were made collectively knowable. During this period, the state extended its gaze beyond a few, highly impactful notifiable diseases to a host of other threats to livestock health. The prime mechanism through which this was achieved was the disease survey. Paralleling wider developments in survey practices, it grew from small interwar beginnings into a hugely expensive, wide-ranging state veterinary project that created a new conception of the nation’s livestock, as a geographical aggregation of animals in varying states of health. This article traces the disease survey’s entanglements with dairy cows, farming practices, veterinary professional politics, and government agendas. I show that far from a neutral reflection of reality, surveys both represented and perpetuated specific versions of dairy cow health, varieties of farming practice, and visions of the veterinary professional role. At first, their findings proved influential, but over time they found it harder to discipline their increasingly complex human, animal. and microbial subjects, resulting in unconvincing representations of reality that led ultimately to their marginalization.

Keywords:Veterinary, agriculture, dairy cows, disease survey, 20th century history, Britain
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V147 Modern History 1950-1999
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V380 History of Science
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V320 Social History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V146 Modern History 1920-1949
Divisions:College of Arts
ID Code:54623
Deposited On:17 May 2023 15:08

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