The way we farm depends on the species farmed, the environment, and on our beliefs, prejudices and expectations. A model was developed to consider cultural influences, community ethics, and individual goals to help understand shepherding and organic farming. Assisting sheep at lambing is reinforced by cultural expectations of what shepherds should do. Different management strategies are used depending on the sheep, their environment, and the costs and practicalities of supervision. Finally, the weight given to different factors may depend on the motivation of individuals in deciding to "live with the flock" or find better ways of managing lambing. Reflecting the different goals of agriculture, individuals were motivated to convert to organic farming by economic returns, the environment, chemical use, food safety and quality, animal health and welfare, and a desire to maintain rural communities. The safety of chemicals, food quality, and the environment are central to understanding the value of organics to the community. Finally, organic farming is informed by stories of “being at one with nature” An understanding of the different beliefs that inform us of the way farming is, or should be, may result in a greater shared understanding of complex issues, and more equitable farming practices.

MW, Fisher, BH Small, AD Mackay, GJ Kenny, BC Jerebine, and TG Parminter

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 64, Hamilton, 183-187, 2004
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