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The MERL Seminar Series: Farm Animals

PART OF ANIMERL, A PROGRAMME OF EVENTS ON THE THEME OF ANIMALS THIS AUTUMN

18 Oct 2019-26 Nov 2019

THE MERL SEMINARS, AUTUMN 2019: FARM ANIMALS

For the majority of us, our image of farming would be incomplete without working animals or livestock. The role of farm animals as part of our future food systems, environmental lives, or global health often plays a part in the headlines. However, our ideas about those animals are informed as much by nostalgic stereotypes as by practical or historical knowledge. So, join us for an eye-opening series of seminars offering new insight into farm animals.

All seminars take place at The MERL from 12 to 1pm
Booking is advisable

5 NOV
BIGGER, BETTER, FASTER, CHEAPER? TOWARDS A NEW HISTORY OF INTENSIVE LIVESTOCK FARMING
PROFESSOR ABIGAIL WOODS, KINGS COLLEGE LONDON

When and why did intensive farming develop, and how did it impact on farmers’ relationships with their animals? Vet and historian, Abigail Woods, brings new evidence to bear on these questions, which challenges what we think we know about intensification in 20th century Britain.

12 NOV
FROM WHAT SOURCES DID FARMERS ACQUIRE KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING OF FARM ANIMAL DISEASES?
DR JAMES P. BOWEN, LEEDS TRINITY UNIVERSITY

Our speaker combines work as part of a major ongoing project exploring endemic disease in British livestock farming and his MERL Fellowship focussed on poultry history to explore how farmers acquired information about farm animal diseases. From the role of agricultural education, radio and television, to commercial companies involved in the agriculture industry, and the importance of advisory services and publications produced by the Ministry of Agriculture, this subject brings a variety of different historical sources to light.

19 NOV
EQUINE MACHINES: HORSES AND TRACTORS ON TWENTIETH-CENTURY BRITISH FARMS.
FELICITY MCWILLIAMS, MUSEUM OF ENGLISH RURAL LIFE / KINGS COLLEGE LONDON

By 1970, the tractor had almost entirely replaced the horse as the main source of draught power on Britain’s farms. But what happened to the two technologies during the half-century that they existed and worked alongside each other? This talk will explore how farmers chose, modified, used, re-used, cared for and thought about animal and machine power, and why it matters.

26TH NOVEMBER
WHAT IS A FARM ANIMAL?
PROFESSOR KAREN SAYER, LEEDS TRINITY UNIVERSITY

Agriculture is shaped by humans but also by the livestock treading concrete, wearing the stalls, or hefted to the hills. Farm decisions often focus on livestock health, welfare, and productivity, but, if a farm animal is simply an animal on the farm, then we might agree with Eleanor Ormerod’s 1894 observation that a ‘common farm animal is … a weasel or a vole, a wood-pigeon or a pheasant, a blind-worm or a common-frog.’ What is a farm animal and do they make the farm with us?