Best practice versus farm practice: perspectives of lecturers and students at agricultural colleges in England on management of lameness in sheep

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Warwick
  • University of Nottingham


We use the concepts of trust and knowledge to explore translation of scientific evidence about treatment of ovine footrot to students studying at agricultural colleges. We explore the role of different forms of trust (companion, competence and commitment) in facilitating relationships between students and informants. We also investigate how students acquire knowledge, and how this influences their practices for treating footrot. We find that despite being taught evidence-based practice (antibiotic treatment and no foot trimming) at college, most students would still use traditional farm practice (foot trimming) to treat footrot. Students develop tacit knowledge of traditional practices from farmers whilst working on sheep farms and these farmers have a strong influence on students' practices; students have high levels of companion trust for “known farmers". College lecturers who demonstrate competence gain students' trust, but where this does not occur there is a failure in communication between lecturer and student. Students acquire explicit classroom knowledge of evidence-based practice at college because there is limited practical experiential learning. This explicit knowledge is typically insufficient to change behaviour, unless students trust their lecturer. Our findings indicate that farming experience dominates over classroom experience and so college education alone will not ensure uptake of evidence-based practice.


Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Early online date26 Nov 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Nov 2019


  • Agricultural students, Footrot, Knowledge, Sheep, Translation, Trust