Veterinary Concerns: Navigating Clashing Values in Farm Animal Care


Industrial animal farming has ensured the efficient production of affordable meat for rapidly growing populations, but is currently under great pressure to change. In the Netherlands, famous for its agricultural innovation, veterinarians play a key—yet unexamined—role in the regulation and innovation of intensive livestock production. They treat animals to keep them fit for human consumption, advise on farming practices, and perform quality checks in slaughterhouses and during transport. Engaging in this work, veterinarians find themselves in the front line of juggling the diverse values at stake in animal farming. The proposed research examines how in a world caught between the growing demand for meat, pressing ecological challenges, and the rising concern for animal welfare, veterinarians negotiate diverse concerns and contribute to changes in the livestock sector.

Utilizing the innovative method of valuography, this project will examine how veterinarians in their daily work juggle and negotiate different ways of ‘doing good’. The fieldwork will follow veterinarians in their roles as health professionals, state agents, and expert advisors in three contentious cases: 1) animal welfare and public health regulations regarding long-distance transport; 2) the treatment and prevention of pigtail biting; and 3) technological innovations targeting ecological and health problems related to airborne endotoxins around livestock facilities. Drawing on these cases, the project will unravel how four registers of valuing—premised on animal welfare, human health, ecology and economy—coexist and interfere with one another. This research will advance valuation studies by exploring the relations between these competing registers of valuing. In addition, the project will contribute to multi-species ethnography by analysing the crucial role of veterinarians in reshaping contemporary human-animal relationships. Finally, working alongside professionals on shared concerns, the project will both study and contribute to practices of deliberation and experimentation around ‘good’ food production.





E. Vogel

Verbonden aan

Linköping University, Department of Thematic Studies


01/01/2020 tot 01/01/2024